The enthusiasm of STEM teachers and early exposure to STEM fields has been shown to strongly influence a studentâs selection of engineering as a major/career. Due to the somewhat abstract and often hazardous nature of chemical engineering compared to other engineering fields, it is often difficult to create engaging chemical engineering experiences for K-12 students. To help address this issue, my students and I have created over 70 engineering adventure experiences which have been presented to over 6,000 K-12 students. We have focused on hands-on interactive demonstrations that use as many senses as possible; however, feedback from our experiences has inspired us to modify our approach to involve a higher level of active learning. Here we present our efforts to create open-ended, hypothesis-driven, âchose your own adventureâ chemical engineering experiences that are safe, fun, inexpensive, and easily tailored to elementary, middle, or high school students. Survey response data from 3rd
year engineering students who developed and presented these experiences is presented demonstrating their desire to be involved in service-learning opportunities and the impact it had on their understanding of basic engineering concepts.
Inspired by the above experience, we have also created a âChose Your Own Adventureâ Engineering Experience for 1st Year Engineering Students. The experience is constrained to address an Engineering Grand Challenge as Described by the National Academy of Engineering and students must complete the Engineering Design Cycle. However, beyond this and approval from risk management, the experience is completely open ended. To maximize intrinsic motivation and engagement, student teams are assigned based on interest in a given Engineering Grand Challenge. Here we also report the impact of such an open-ended experience during the 1st Year on student engagement and excitement for continuing in an engineering major.