To increase the preparedness for and interest in Engineering, as well as general math-science skills in our youth, a new course has been developed in cooperation with the Education College at Boise State University called "Engineering for Educators". The goal is to reach more K-12 students for longer periods of time and at earlier ages than most outreach activities allow. The education students are mixed with the engineering students in the existing "Introduction to Engineering" course. The education students get an extra hour a week with an education professor to discuss how the engineering projects could be used in the K-12 classroom to meet state teaching standards for math and science as well as reading, writing and other non-technical subjects.
Combining the educators in with the engineers has three main benefits. First, the educators get to see what the engineering students actually learn without the material being watered down. Second, the teaching load is distributed by including more bodies in existing sections requiring the education professor to only prepare the discussion lecture and not the engineering projects. Third, by interacting with the engineering students, the educators can break down some of their stereotypical views of engineers and they may be more likely to recommend this field to their future K-12 students when they see a student with the appropriate interests.
Although this reports on the first semester that the course was offered, those involved have seen several improvements in student attitude, both engineering and education students. However, the most telling improvement is the confidence level of the education students. They have found that they can play a valuable part in any team project. Although they may not feel they have the necessary math skills they are able to organize, analyze and synthesize the ideas. Also, once the math is explained to them they realize that they do understand the concepts. The education students are also seeing numerous ways that the course projects could be used in the schools.
Plans are to continue to offer this course in the following semesters with expectations for higher enrollment including some practicing teachers. Discussion is beginning on making this course an acceptable substitute for the math & science methods course offered by the Education College.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/elisa_barney_smith/54/