Engagement in Practice: Developing a Sustainable K-12 Outreach STEM Program


In recent years, an emphasis has been placed on incorporating projects that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related subjects into K12 curriculum. These projects often involve solving real world challenges in order to engage the students and develop critical thinking skills. Research findings suggest that conceptual learning is improved particularly if students are required to use knowledge and skills from multiple disciplines. In this paper, we discuss the development of an outreach program beginning with 6th grade students in math and science classes. The students are in a rural school district and many are in the lower social economic sector. The goals of this program are threefold: First to enhance the critical thinking skills of the students; second, to reach the students who fall into the lower social economic sector who might not have encouragement to pursue STEM fields in the future; and finally to create a sustaining co-mentoring program between university instructors and students with the K12 teachers and their students. Our team began work with the 6th grade students in their classroom during school hours. Students initially work on a well-defined project or experiment then, based on their initial finding, work as a part of a team to design and implement their next project or experiment. To measure the impact of our program in the future, our team will assess changes in student test scores and possibly conduct pre and post surveys to assess changes in student attitudes toward STEM. One important lesson learned was that for sustainability, the time commitment of only 1 hour per week is necessary.

Meeting Name

125th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition (2018: Jun. 24-27, Salt Lake City, UT)


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Second Department

Biological Sciences


Presented at Engagement in Practice: Engaging the Community through Educational Outreach

Keywords and Phrases

Engineering; Students; Middle School

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2018 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jun 2018