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Engineering, teacher education students join talents to teach youngsters
Engineering, teacher education students
join talents to teach youngsters
Trine students Sannie Anderson, second from right, and Kiera Baum, right, show how the Properties of Light maze uses mirrors, prisms and walls to demonstrate the movement of light. Watching are Pleasant Lake students, from left, Bailey Snow and April Zeeb (purple shirt) and Trine students Taylor Scott (behind April Zeeb) and Morgan Lehman (black jacket with white stripes).
ANGOLA, Ind. – Engineering and teacher education students pooled their skills to develop “creative and useful” ways to teach science to grade-schoolers.
Professor Sean Carroll’s project management students completed the STEM-Education Cooperative Project with the department of education under the direction of Amy Alexander, professor in the Franks School of Education. Then, 18 engineering seniors and 20 teacher education seniors worked to make and deliver kits, respectively, to aid in teaching state-mandated science concepts. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The project began with teacher education students making a list of lessons they wished to teach to elementary students. Then, teams of students majoring in electrical engineering, computer engineering and science education brainstormed ideas to come up with ways to teach specific concepts, said Carroll, a professor of electrical and computer engineering. These ideas became kits with written instructions. Some kits may be used repeatedly while others call for basic supplies to conduct experiments.
“Trine is known for its engineering programs, so for education majors to work with engineering majors was really fun, and a way to draw attention to the education program,” said DJ Apple, elementary education major from Montpelier, Ohio.
“By fostering discussions between content experts (engineering students) and child experts (education students), they were able to develop scientifically accurate hands-on activities that are developmentally appropriate for various grade levels,” Alexander said. “Children in the schools will certainly benefit from teachers who know their content and are able to communicate that content in developmentally appropriate ways.”
The kits were taken for testing to Pleasant Lake Elementary School, part of the Metropolitan School District of Steuben County that serves kindergarten through fifth-grade students.
Apple and his fellow elementary education classmates – Angie Lile, Walkerton; Stephanie Helmsing, Angola; and Elizabeth C. Fisher, Medina, Ohio – used a kit to show how energy is transferred. Four different experiments, each using common items such as pennies, glass bottles, boiled eggs and paper, were developed.
The energy transfer kit was made by electrical engineering students Kenny Kill, of Cromwell, and Jared Trimble of Gas City, and computer engineering students Kristeena Sarver of Whitehouse, Ohio, and Seth Ware, of Utica, Ohio.
“It was awesome to have them get engaged to try something different,” Apple said of the fifth-graders’ response. “It gets them engaged and the more engaged they are, the more apt they are to learn new material.”
And, the youngsters who tested the kits appeared to have fun as they took turns getting their hands on the kits.
Children quickly squeezed in to see “The Properties of Light” maze developed by engineering team Trent Gutting, computer engineering, Fort Wayne; Devin Leas, electrical engineering, Montpelier, Ind., and Greg Whelan, electrical engineering, Shaftsburg, Mich. The maze features movable mirrors, prisms and walls and a light source as a way to teach how light can be manipulated through reflection, absorption and shadows.
“The kit allows students to construct and navigate a light maze,” Gutting said. “The students can redirect light with the mirrors through the maze and choose which (colored) filters to use.”
With a $20 budget, the engineering students used basic items, such as mirrors found in makeup compacts, colored transparent binder separators to replace prisms, dowel rod and recycled cardboard to form walls. The frame is constructed of composite wood board.
Trine’s team of elementary education majors Sannie Anderson of Hesperia, Mich.; Kiera Baum, Ligonier; Morgan Lehman, Angola; and Taylor Scott, Angola; recently set the wood-framed maze on the floor for fifth-graders at Pleasant Lake Elementary and the children quickly moved in for a closer look. They smiled, leaned in as the team demonstrated and shot hands in the air to secure a chance to try it out. Then, they pleaded to “keep it and use it for science projects.”
“The students seemed to really enjoy using the kit,” Anderson said. “They not only had to critically think about how to manipulate the light and mirrors, but also how to collaborate with others in their group.
“Every student in our group at Pleasant Lake was actively engaged and interested in the kit, embracing the learning opportunities offered by it,” she said.
Another student favorite was “The Laws of Motion” kit assembled by Kyle Lidster, electrical engineering, Griffith; Phil Stakely, electrical engineering, Ostrander; Sean Robb, computer engineering, St. Louis , Mo.; and Andrew Siebert, electrical engineering, Columbia City.
“As soon as the education majors pitched the idea of wanting to portray the laws of motion, we were brainstorming simple ways to demonstrate this idea,” Phil Stakely said. “We looked back on what we liked as kids and came up with the ramps and Matchbox cars.
“The kit is designed to introduce the laws of motion in an interesting way to inspire the kids,” he said. “We used a ramp to show potential energy and marbles were used more to show the force of moving objects.”
“After the initial pilot of the kits, I think they could be successfully used in a classroom,” Alexander said. “Students were engaged with the materials, asking questions, and interacting with our students and one another. Developmentally, elementary students need to see and interact with materials in order to better understand many concepts. These kits allow our students to create the very learning experience elementary children need.”