(542f) Assessing Fundamental Conceptual Understanding with a High School Outreach Project
AIChE Annual Meeting
Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - 5:00pm to 5:21pm
In order to create an interest among high school students in STEM fields a high school outreach program was developed. Students from a core Chemical & Biochemical Engineering class (Transport Phenomena II: Heat and Mass Transfer) are required to go to a local high school or middle school and make a presentation to increase the high school students' awareness of the importance of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology to the field of engineering. Teams of 3-5 college students deliver a presentation, provide hands-on activities, and provide an evaluation to be completed by the class and the teacher. This project provides the college students with an opportunity to be creative, to share their experiences with high school students, and to introduce the high school students to technical areas and careers that they might not have considered. During the presentation, the high school students are made aware of the various paths and diverse coursework that college students have taken in order to study engineering and what they plan to do upon graduation. The college students also discuss what skills they learned in high school that have been helpful in their college education and during their summer research experiences and internships.
Hands-on activities tie concepts that the high school students have learned to what the college students are learning in their advanced university courses. The college students are then required to explain how the activities relate to practical industrial applications. The college students are allowed to form their own teams, select the school, and the topic that they will teach. Each team must practice their presentation with the instructor before they are allowed to present to the high school or middle schools students; and in addition the instructor attends each of the school presentations. The college students must also critically assess the efficacy of their outreach project ? and determine how this can be measured. Through this project the college students have the opportunity to practice their communication skills with an audience which has little technical background ? which has resulted in being able to assess fundamental conceptual understanding for each of the individual college students.