Engineering has historically been dominated by White men. However, in modern history, engineering is becoming more diverse as the opportunity to pursue engineering has become accessible to people of all races and genders. Yet, college ready high school students from nontraditional backgrounds—women, ethnic minorities, first-generation-to-college students, and those with financial need—often lack exposure to engineering, thus reducing their likelihood to pursue a career in this field. To create engineering learning experiences that can be expanded to a traditional high school science classroom, the Young Engineers Shape the World program at Arizona State University was consulted. The Young Engineers Shape the World program encourages women, notably the most underrepresented group in the engineering field, as well as other students of diverse backgrounds, to pursue engineering. The goal of this effort was to create a 3-contact hour chemical engineering based learning experience to help students in grades 10-11 learn about an application of chemical engineering. Using knowledge of chemical engineering, a soil pH testing activity was created, simulating a typical high school chemistry science experiment. In addition to measuring pH, students were asked to build a modern garden that contained a physical barrier that could protect the garden from acid rain while still allowing sunlight to reach the plant. Student feedback was collected in the form of an experience evaluation survey after each experience. Students found that the soil-moisture quality testing and design of a protective barrier was engaging. However, an iterative curriculum redesign-implement-evaluate effort is needed to arrive at a robust chemical engineering based design learning experience.
- Expanding Science Experiments to Incorporate Engineering Curriculum for College Ready Students from Nontraditional Backgrounds