Center Works With Local Educators to Create Programs for K-12 Students

Achievement date: 
2016
Outcome/accomplishment: 

Faculty and graduate students at the NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Bio-mediated and Bio-inspired Geotechnics (CBBG), headquartered at Arizona State University, worked with local educational partners to develop multiple projects that engaged K-12 and undergraduate students to make engineering topics more accessible by relating them to society’s needs and greatest challenges.

Impact/benefits: 

This collaboration helped prepare the next generation of students and educators to succeed in STEM education, academia, and industry. One program sought to foster confidence in 3rd-5th grade girls at a time when it falters for many. The programs also helped teachers develop their ability to communicate complex research topics.

Explanation/Background: 

The educational modules were developed with input from educators, engineers, and scientists to promote interest in CBBG’s research areas while also meeting objectives of the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. The final educational products will be freely available to all K-12 educators.

The collaboration produced a two-course series training graduate students in educational outreach design; geotechnical education modules for K-12 and undergraduate audiences; a professional development workshop in sustainable engineering for teachers; and an engineering day camp for girls from 3rd to 5th grade that included discussions on “imposter syndrome,” lessons that can be learned from role models, and long-term goal setting.

The biogeotechnical modules were used during the CBBG-sponsored Girls Saving the World through Engineering Day Camp to engage girls in sustainable engineering. Each of the five days was dedicated to a separate topic related to the CBBG, such as bio-inspired designs for infrastructure protection, bio-mediated designs for mitigating damage from earthquakes, and measuring sustainability through life cycle assessment.