Engineering Academy: Educating Engineers of the Future
This project will advance efforts to understand and promote practices that increase students' motivations and capacities to pursue careers in STEM by preparing students in high need middle schools for science and math courses, and engineering careers.
This project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase students' motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) by preparing middle school students for advanced science and math courses, and for engineering careers. There is a general lack of engineering knowledge, limited awareness by K-12 teachers about engineering careers, and absence of appropriate role models. Research has shown that early exposure to engineering can significantly increase students' awareness of this discipline as a rewarding career path. The Engineering Academy (EA) at Stony Brook University addresses factors that inhibit involvement in engineering, by engaging students and teachers from low achieving middle schools in the passion, challenges and opportunities of engineering. The project will impact a broad spectrum of participants, with focus on low income students. Students will be exposed to cross-cutting engineering knowledge and skills. Teachers will learn innovative engineering instructional practices that will impact students for many years in the future. Professional engineers will inspire participants by sharing their career experiences; faculty will integrate their expertise in science education and engineering; and Stony Brook University will broaden its vision, mission and role in 6th-8th grade education. The results will be a model for a sustainable and scalable partnership that demonstrates meaningful implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards, addressing student education and teacher professional learning.
This unique program addresses several documented weaknesses in engineering education. It is inspired by successful activities already in place and will provide a model for middle school engineering instruction. The EA will offer activities in several engineering disciplines and computer sciences to students and their teachers in grades 6th-8th. The Student Engineering Academy (SEA) will run after-school sessions during the academic year and a one-week summer camp for a total of about 40 hours of engineering exposure. In addition, 10 in-service teachers per year will chaperone students to the SEA and attend a Teacher Engineering Academy (TEA) that will engage them for a total of forty hours to integrate engineering into mathematics and science instruction. The research component of this project will investigate the underlying psychosocial mechanisms that promote or undermine academic and career engagement, especially, as these mechanisms relate to a diversity of middle school students. Utilizing repeated measures, longitudinal quantitative and qualitative survey methods, the research project will address some of the guiding questions aligned to the NSF ITEST program, including: (a) How does exposure to SEA impact the development and change of academic and career engagement outcomes (e.g., efficacy, identity and investment) among student participants over time; (b) Does exposure to SEA impact the development of academic, social and career engagement outcomes among students over time; and (c) Does exposure to TEA impact teachers' knowledge of students' STEM career options, efficacy in implementing engineering content aimed at their students, and beliefs about student engagement.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.