Zip to STEM: Integrating Engineering Design in MS Science
The Zipping to STEM project focused on investigating the impact of integrating engineering design in the science curriculum on students’ understanding of science and engineering concepts and practices, and interest in STEM and STEM careers. The goal was to increase students’ interest in STEM and expand their access to opportunities to experience integrated STEM activities. Our work focused on middle school students as research shows that increasing this group’s interest in science is a strong predictor of later STEM career pursuit.
The curriculum was designed to engage students in solving a real-world problem through the use of additive manufacturing. They were asked to optimize a prototype of a Soap Box Derby Car by using CAD software, virtual and physical wind tunnel testing, and 3D printing. They investigated the factors that impact the performance of a gravity racing car in order to optimize its performance, using concepts learned about forces and motion. The students also learned the basics of aerodynamics through investigating the performance of various shapes on a track and in a wind tunnel. The students then used CAD Software and virtual simulation testing to design and test a car shell.
Established measures including the AAAS Forces and Motion assessment, Engineering Concept Assessment, and S-STEM survey were used to evaluate the impact of the program on students' knowledge of forces and motion concepts, understanding of engineering design, ability to apply the design process to a new design problem, and motivation for STEM. Preliminary results from the pilot year showed that the intervention group statistically significantly increased in their understanding of engineering concepts and self-efficacy in engineering compared with a group of students who did not participate in the intervention.
Presented in: 2018 (see original presentation & discussion)
NSF Awards: 1513205
Grade Level: Grades 6-8