(76k) Engineering Pre-Service STEM Teachers to Introduce Chemical Engineering to K-12 Students in Bordertown: Laredo

Gupta, A. - Presenter, Texas A&M International University

This work commits to the advancement and diversification of STEM education in Texas through a novel approach of creating a one-day workshop on “Chemical Engineering” as a part of the activities for secondary pre-service STEM teachers. The goal of the program is to fulfill the needs of industries in regions of South Texas serviced by Outreach Strategy Team’s Pilot Program at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU). Situated on the border with Mexico, TAMIU, a Member of the Texas A&M University System serves predominantly Hispanic population by providing academic services to a high number of economically disadvantaged and first-generation students, who, due to Laredo’s isolated geographical location have very limited access to higher education. The majority of the teachers in Laredo received their education from TAMIU, targeting the pre-service teachers at TAMIU will expand our future teachers’ knowledge of chemical engineering, and aid in Texas A&M Engineering recruitment program. 

The highlights of the one-day workshop on Chemical Engineering are: 1) familiarize the pre-service teachers with the chemical engineering curriculum and the profession, 2) introduce the concepts of basic unit operations, block and process flow diagrams, materials, and energy balances, and 3)  engage them on a hands-on laboratory activity to produce their own biodiesel. The laboratory activity is supplemented with a question set that includes calculations appropriate for an introductory-level course, and flow diagrams for the process.

This one-day workshop constitutes three modules. In the first module, basic unit operations are discussed, followed by the generation of block diagrams. The concept of recycling is introduced, and the pre-service teachers modify the streams on their generated  block diagrams to “avoid wastage”.  Activities include proposing a flow diagram of a simple two-step process, identifying the basic components of process flow diagrams and guess the unknown process. The second module, covers the mass based material and energy balances. The concept of conservation of mass is introduced using mass-based chemical reactions, which is further applied to a unit operation problem using the block diagram generated in the first module.

The third laboratory module provides an overview of the scientific and engineering aspects of biodiesel production supplemented with a hands-on-activity on the biodiesel production using soybean, and waste vegetable oil obtained from the TAMIU diner. The recorded mass and volumes from the activity is to use to understand unit conversions and stoichiometry. Flow diagrams of the process are generated followed by simple material balance calculations. At the end of the workshop, the pre-service teachers are surveyed for their knowledge on chemical engineering program, and opinion of the workshop.

 [YMA1]You mean the one-day workshop, right? Maybe better to say  “workshop”