1. Nidaa Makki
  2. Associate Professor
  3. Zipping Towards STEM: Integrating Engineering Design into the Middle School Physical Science Curriculum
  4. University of Akron
  1. Wondimu Ahmed
  2. https://www.uakron.edu/education/academic-programs/EFL/profile.dot?u=wahmed
  3. Associate Professor
  4. Zipping Towards STEM: Integrating Engineering Design into the Middle School Physical Science Curriculum
  5. University of Akron
  1. Nicholas Garafolo
  2. Assistant Professor
  3. Zipping Towards STEM: Integrating Engineering Design into the Middle School Physical Science Curriculum
  4. University of Akron
  1. Tricia Kelly
  2. School Liaison
  3. Zipping Towards STEM: Integrating Engineering Design into the Middle School Physical Science Curriculum
  4. University of Akron
  1. Kristin Koskey
  2. Associate Professor
  3. Zipping Towards STEM: Integrating Engineering Design into the Middle School Physical Science Curriculum
  4. University of Akron
Facilitators’
Choice
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Nidaa Makki

    Nidaa Makki

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2018 | 10:51 p.m.

    Thank you for viewing our video for the Zipping to STEM project!   

    We are in our third and final year of the project, with 12 teachers and approximately 1300 students participating this year. In collaboration with the school district, we chose to integrate engineering design in the science curriculum to provide an opportunity for all students, as opposed to an after-school activity or an elective engineering class that not all students may participate in. 

    We are currently analyzing student data to investigate program impact on students understanding of engineering design, science concepts as well as their interest in STEM and STEM careers. In addition to these outcomes, we observed that students highlighted soft skills when reflecting on their learning after they finished their projects. They reported learning about teamwork, perseverance, and grit when working on an open-ended project to overcome obstacles and see their 3D printed designs in action.

     

    Thank you for posting your questions and comments!

     

     

  • Icon for: Debora Liberi

    Debora Liberi

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 13, 2018 | 11:44 p.m.

    It looks as if this could have had a greater impact in that students felt more confident about applying math and science. I wondered if an outcome was that students elected to take more math and science courses when they optioned for classes in high schoo?

  • Icon for: Kristin Koskey

    Kristin Koskey

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 09:16 a.m.

    Thank you for reviewing the video for our study, Debora!

    We like your idea to look at the number of classes they take in math and science. In fact, in discussing this suggestion with a few research team members couple of the research team members, we plan to consider requesting these data from the school district.

    Although we weren’t able to elaborate in the video on student motivation, we did assess multiple student motivation outcomes using the S-STEM before to after the unit implementation for the comparison group and intervention group. These outcomes included their interest in STEM careers and their attitudes towards STEM (particularly their perceptions of interest in science, technology and technology, engineering, and math). To date from the pilot data, we found that motivation remained stable from before to after the learning unit, after controlling for student-level demographics (gender, racial/ethnic group) and teacher-level demographics (gender, number of years teaching).

    Although significant findings were not observed for motivation outcomes, teachers during the pilot year anecdotally shared that, after a few weeks of concluding the unit, their students were asking whether they were going to get to use the technology again and talked about engineering. This year, we delayed the post surveys on the motivation outcomes so to see if there perhaps was a delayed impact. Your suggestion to consider the courses they enroll in during high school relates to this consideration of a delayed effect - to determine if this provided for a seed of interest to be planted, so to speak.

    Have you ever observed a delayed effect in your research? If so, how did you capture it?

    Thank you again for your feedback,

    Kristin

  • Icon for: Debora Liberi

    Debora Liberi

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 14, 2018 | 10:23 a.m.

    Hi Kristin,

    I am not sure we discovered a delayed effect in the same way you have with your students. We do have our teachers design and implement 5 Challenge Based Learning (CBL) units over a 2 year period. We feel strongly that the teacher comfort level improves over time as well as the student comfort level.  By the second year, teachers are more confident about using CBL as an instructional strategy and the students are more confident about using EDP to determine the best solutions to the Challenge.

    Thanks for your feedback!

    - Debbie

  • Icon for: Wondimu Ahmed

    Wondimu Ahmed

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 09:47 a.m.

     

    Thanks Debora.

    As my co-presenters mentioned, we have measured several motivational constructs and one of these was intent to take advanced math and science courses.  The data are being analyzed and we would be happy to share the findings with you.

     

    I have also watched your video. Very well presented!

    I just have one question: Were you able to separate the effect of EDP and CBL? (i.e., CBL, vs. EDP vs. EDP+CBL vs. Comparison group)

    Thanks

    Wondimu

  • Icon for: Debora Liberi

    Debora Liberi

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 14, 2018 | 10:17 a.m.

    HI Wondimu,

    That is a great question.  We actually have our students use the EDP process while finding a solution to the Challenge. Therefore we do not separate the two. Once the students test a solution to their Challenge, and if it doesn't work or work well, then they are able to make iterations to improve the initial solution. In this way they employ the EDP process while using Challenge Based Learning.

    Thanks,

    - Debbie

  • Small default profile

    Michael Dolges

    K-12 Teacher
    May 14, 2018 | 11:58 a.m.

    I too utilize the engineering design process as a vehicle for students to engage in problem solving and design activities.  I have always found that student engagement is heightened when they are able to infuse their creativity while solving a problem.  I also love projects that encourage friendly competition, to design the fastest car, for example.  Students are typically competitive by nature and tend to give great effort when applying their skills in a project like this.  It would be interesting to find out if there is a correlation to this approach and standardized test results. 

  • Icon for: Alan Peterfreund

    Alan Peterfreund

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 01:03 p.m.

    This is a very neat project that could fit well into the I-Corps process for thinking about how to scale.  You have an I-CORPS site at Akron http://www.uakron.edu/icorps/  that you might want to share this project with and solicit their support.

  • Icon for: Nicholas Garafolo

    Nicholas Garafolo

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 11:20 a.m.

    Thanks Alan!  Yes I agree, the customer discovery experience of an I-Corps program will help guide any commercial opportunities and help answer the question, "how do we scale?" 

  • Icon for: Kristin Koskey

    Kristin Koskey

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 01:06 p.m.

    That is an interesting idea, Alan. We will check it out!

  • Icon for: Michael Briscoe

    Michael Briscoe

    Researcher
    May 15, 2018 | 07:11 a.m.

    What an interesting project! And, a well-thought out research design.

    I am intrigued about the structure of your intervention. The Soap Box Derby problem seems like a rich question for student investigation. Do you have any advice about what makes a challenge rich enough to engage the students like your intervention did? Did you feel like the technology components were required?

    Thanks for sharing this exciting work!

  • Icon for: Nidaa Makki

    Nidaa Makki

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 09:24 a.m.

    Hi Michael,

    Thank you for your comment and questions. We worked with the school district to design a challenge that was relevant to the science standards in 8th grade, as well as provide opportunities for integrating engineering and technology into the curriculum.

    The technology question is a very good one. One of our goals was to emphasize the role of technology in STEM, by integrating computational testing and additive manufacturing, so that students make connections to future STEM careers. We started with having students work with prototypes of a car shell to investigate aerodynamic properties, and by testing the shells in a wind tunnel. Then we introduced testing in a virtual wind tunnel, which was designed by a team of undergraduate engineering students. We encouraged middle school students to make connections between the real wind tunnel and the virtual wind tunnel in terms of benefits and drawbacks. The students were then able to use the virtual wind tunnel to test their own CAD designs and optimize them before they 3D print them.

    The technology component was actually the most challenging for students in this project. While it provided an authentic experience of real world STEM, it was also difficult to teach CAD skills in the constraints of limited time. We also had the constraints of students having access to chromebooks only, which limited options to web based CAD programs. We are currently working on investigating options to make the technology component more seamless and would appreciate any feedback from the community.

  • Small default profile

    Michael Dolges

    K-12 Teacher
    May 15, 2018 | 11:56 a.m.

    Do your schools have technology education programs?  If so, have you or could you consider partnering with the technology education department to surpass the technology hurdles relating to CAD skills.  As a technology education instructor, I believe being able to effectively use CAD software is a vital component to the design process, and it helps students realize their ideas.  Perhaps, the students could learn the CAD skills in a technology education class as a prerequisite to participating in the Zip to STEM program.

  • Icon for: Nidaa Makki

    Nidaa Makki

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 01:52 p.m.

    Thanks Michael, that's a very good point. The school district offers a technology course that covers CAD, but it's an elective, so not all students take it. The students who did were more comfortable with CAD. 

  • Small default profile

    Michael Dolges

    K-12 Teacher
    May 16, 2018 | 11:14 a.m.

    I visited the Zip To STEM website.  I am not sure if you are the point of contact for the webpage, but I had emailed the webpage regarding some curriculum questions and such.  I was looking to gain access to some of the curriculum and assessments under the Teacher tab of the webpage.  Also, had a few questions regarding grants and funding for this project.  Could you point me to who I need to be in touch with?  Thanks!

  • Icon for: Nidaa Makki

    Nidaa Makki

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 02:42 p.m.

    Hello Michael, I would be happy to answer any questions you have. Feel free to email me. 

  • Small default profile

    Michael Dolges

    K-12 Teacher
    May 16, 2018 | 02:50 p.m.

    What is your email address ?  I had not gotten any response from the Zip To STEM contact email.  As a technology education instructor, I also implement the engineering design process into many of my junior high classes; so this program was of particular interest to me.  Is it possible to gain access to the Curriculum, Assessments, and Resources under the Teacher tab of the webpage?  When I try to access those materials, it is asking for a Password.  Is that material only available to the teachers that are part of the program?  Also, I had noticed on the Program Overview that many of the materials were supplied by a grant.  Would you be able to share what grants were used to fund this and how you went about obtaining those grants?  Thank you for any information you are able to share.

  • Icon for: Nidaa Makki

    Nidaa Makki

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 03:31 p.m.

    Here's my email: nm32@uakron.edu. The curriculum and assessment materials are not yet available outside the project since the study is still underway, but I would be happy to talk with you more about what we did. We have grant funding from NSF, under the ITEST program. You can access the award information from the link at the top of the page (NSF Awards: 1513205).  

  • Icon for: Angie Kalthoff

    Angie Kalthoff

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 06:16 p.m.

    This is an interesting project and I would like to know about student reflection.

    I am wondering if you could share how students reflected throughout the project. What are common themes that were uncovered and what, if any, were surprising? Has anything been modified from your original plans based on student feedback in your surveys? 

  • Icon for: Nidaa Makki

    Nidaa Makki

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 10:59 a.m.

    These are very good questions, Angie! thank you for commenting. 

    The project was implemented across the district with a large number of students so there were variations in student reflections.Students worked in groups to design and test their car shells, then each group presented their projects to the class. They included the steps they followed to design their car shells, why they chose those designs, and how the designs performed when they tested them. We asked them to talk about what they learned in the process, and a majority of students reported that they found working in groups to be the most challenging. This was a little bit surprising for us as we didn't expect students to highlight group work as most challenging. On the other hand, some of these students mentioned that while they found collaborating to be challenging, they learned a lot in the process in terms of how to work on a team to complete the project. 

    Some teachers also reported that their students became frustrated quickly when a design didn't work or when they had problems with technology. For example, some designs didn't fit the base of the car, so students had to make new ones. Given the time constraints in the classroom, it is not always possible to redo a project if the final design didn't print properly. The open ended nature of the design process was also a challenge for some students, as you can have many different solutions that work, as long as they met the requirements. While some students enjoyed being creative with their car designs, others wanted more step-by-step directions to make their designs. So we needed to balance the need of some students for support with keeping the task open ended as to not reduce the design process to an exercise in following instructions. These findings point to a low tolerance for failure and ambiguity in the design process, which indicate that there is a need to emphasize soft skills such as collaboration and perseverance. During our debriefing meetings with teachers, they talked about the need to improve students' grit for example. 

    We also asked students to reflect formally on how they chose their designs using concepts about aerodynamics that they learned from testing shapes on the track and in the wind tunnel. In observing some groups during their brainstorming sessions, it was clear that they made choices about their designs based on the results of prior investigations with shapes. This was also evident in the presentations when we asked them to describe how they came up with their designs. 

    Regarding your question about modifications of our plans: we tested a version of the curriculum with a small group of students in year one of the project, and used their feedback and our observations of how they interacted with the tasks to make modifications. In year two, we piloted the program in 5 schools and used feedback from teachers to make modifications for year three, when the project was implemented across the district (9 schools). 

  • Icon for: Karthik Ramani

    Karthik Ramani

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 10:30 p.m.

    Nice explanation of the way in which design process was used as a thread to help prototype, optimize a design. With wind tunnel testing and CAD experiences...and most interesting is the virtual wind tunnel. That was cool. Question - how was the way in which the virtual wind tunnel worked explained to the students. Was it a black box? OR were they exposed to how the virtual model worked? The derby car is a good way to get this done and change its shape. However a question here is the friction in the axle and variation from car to car - was it low enough that the shape of the car determined the overall resistance and distance? i.e. are results withing statistical margins that the better shape optimization wins? Also how did you observe the iteration of the shapes - were they given a finite number of iterations in the design process?

  • Icon for: Nicholas Garafolo

    Nicholas Garafolo

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 11:18 a.m.

    Thanks, Karthik!

    The curriculum includes discussion on how engineers use scientific computing to create prototypes virtually.  We discuss the need to rapidly evaluate and change designs; hence the need for the virtual wind tunnel.  We discuss how, with computational analysis, it is a balance between speed and accuracy.  You might get a more accurate solution if you spend more computational time; but is it worth it?  Students rapidly optimization their designs, and in the end, print the one they believe is best; just like engineers!   Its fun to discuss and show the students how many lines of code were required for the virtual wind tunnel.  They are always amazed to find out it took over 3000 lines!

    You bring up a great point about axle friction and other various.  Students explore how to only test one variable at at time and the need for experimental control.  In the end, students use the same base to evaluate the different shapes.  

  • Icon for: Karthik Ramani

    Karthik Ramani

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2018 | 01:23 p.m.

    Nice they get exposed to it. Perhaps you can share how the algorithm design for optimization looks at the higher level (blocks) and what types of mathematics (numerical and algebraic representations of the problem space) it takes to solve design problems computationally. That is needed for reducing development time of products and processes. Fuel savings! etc, and weight of cars ...Here is what i do year around - https://engineering.purdue.edu/toydesign/wp/

  • Icon for: Nicholas Garafolo

    Nicholas Garafolo

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 08:41 a.m.

    We adopted the engineering design process that NASA - Joint Propulsion Laboratory posted at https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/teach/resources/en... We added a K-W-L loop between identify the problem and brainstorm solutions to guide the students on how to develop their "engineering tool kit".

    The "guts" of the wind tunnel code was developed by seniors at The University of Akron for their capstone project.  They utilized MacCormack's method with a couple tricks to speed up the simulation.  It was important to prioritize speed over accuracy.   We got the simulation down to about 15 seconds, which was important for implementation in a middle school classroom.

  • Icon for: Dennis Dupps

    Dennis Dupps

    K-12 Teacher
    May 16, 2018 | 07:53 a.m.

    Your video is well done. I liked how you integrated hands on applications with virtual computer software applications to determine solutions to the problems. This method will give students a model by which the real world functions.

  • Icon for: Nicholas Garafolo

    Nicholas Garafolo

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 11:27 a.m.

    Thanks Dennis.  As you note, it was important for us to develop a true engineering experience for the students.

     

  • Small default profile

    Sara Fuhrman

    Undergraduate Student
    May 16, 2018 | 09:02 p.m.

    This is a great project to have students complete to gain understanding of the engineering design processes. It’s also very engaging and hands on. I loved how you integrated technology by having the students test their design in a virtual wind tunnel. All the characteristics of this project were authentic making the project much more realistic and interesting.

  • Icon for: Tricia Kelly

    Tricia Kelly

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 02:01 p.m.

    Thanks, Sara!  We appreciate your kind words.  Making this an authentic learning experience like you mentioned was one of the goals of the team.  Good luck to you in your studies!  

  • Small default profile

    Aubree Lockard

    Graduate Student
    May 18, 2018 | 04:20 p.m.

    As I was watching this video, I was thinking about how I would have enjoyed this project in 8th grade!  I had a teacher who did something similar in high school, however we didn't get to make our own car and experiment with changes.  That is a big difference in how students learn and are motivated.  If they are able to do, instead of watching, they will be more motivated to learn and apply their skills.  I am not familiar with the programs that were used, but are these free programs or would the district need to purchase them?  

  • Icon for: Nidaa Makki

    Nidaa Makki

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 05:33 p.m.

    Hello Aubree, thanks for your comments! We used a free CAD software from Autodesk called 123D Design. However, this software was discontinued and replaced by other products  (fusion 360, or tinkerCAD-both free). TinkerCAD is simple to use and available online. Fusion 360 has more functions, and is free for students and educators. There are other CAD products that offer free license for teachers.

    The virtual wind tunnel was developed for the project by a University of Akron engineering students. It is not yet available while the study is underway. 

     

  • Small default profile

    Aubree Lockard

    Graduate Student
    May 19, 2018 | 03:38 p.m.

    Nidaa,

    Is there anything else or another program that could be used for the windtunnel simmulation?  Also, do you have any comments from the students on how they felt about this project?

     

  • Icon for: Nicholas Garafolo

    Nicholas Garafolo

    Co-Presenter
    May 20, 2018 | 12:46 p.m.

    Aubree,

    We could not find any other wind tunnel or computational fluid dynamics (CFD) packages that met our needs.  So, we created our own with engineering seniors at The University of Akron.

  • Icon for: Kristin Koskey

    Kristin Koskey

    Co-Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 09:48 a.m.

    Hi Aubree,

    Regarding your question on how students felt about this project, at the conclusion of their presentations, the students were asked what they found most challenging about the project. A common theme reported across the observers of the presentations was that the students shared they found working or collaborating in a group as the most challenging, as well as components of the technology. A common theme emerging from the teacher focus group interview analysis is that the students were "excited" and "engaged" due to the problem-based approach.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.