Teaching Engineering Concepts to Harness Future Innovators (TECHFIT)
The TECHFIT project fosters middle school student enthusiasm for STEM disciplines. This is accomplished by equipping teachers with skills and tools to engage their students and show them how engineering technology knowledge can help them become innovators of interesting, fun, and valuable products. TECHFIT recruits teams of 2-5 science, technology, math, and physical education teachers from partner schools to complete a 6-day, professional development summer workshop. The workshop provides teachers with the information, instruction, lessons, and practice required to deliver a ten-week afterschool program for 6th to 8th grade students in which they design and build exergames. Programs are needed to make study in STEM areas more appealing to America's youth. TECHFIT addresses this need by equipping middle school teachers with the skills and tools to educate students and spark their students' interest in STEM by showing how these skills contribute to the creation of interesting and functional technology-based fitness games. The TECHFIT program is designed to enrich the knowledge base of young students by stimulating their interest in STEM subjects through an after school program run by TECHFIT-trained teachers. By partnering with schools that have large underrepresented, underserved populations, TECHFIT can reach the populations in greater need of programs to interest students in STEM. By giving students an important, appealing reason to pursue these often neglected STEM subjects, students who may not have considered STEM careers will begin to take these subjects more seriously and will be more likely to study STEM in college, thus addressing society's future workforce needs.