Development and Evaluation of an Electrical Engineering and Math Curriculum Module for High School Students
Parents in STEM careers are more apt to guide their kids towards STEM careers (Sherburne-Michigan, 2017). There are STEM programs and classes for students who are interested in related fields, but the conundrum is that students need to be interested in order to choose to participate. The goal of this creative project was to introduce engineering concepts in a high school class to reveal and investigate the ways in which engineering concepts can be successfully introduced to a larger student populace to increase interest in engineering programs, courses, and degrees. A lesson plan and corresponding materials - including circuit kits and a simulated ball launching station with graphical display - were made to accomplish this goal. Throughout the lesson students were asked to (1) use given materials to accomplish a goal, (2) predict outcomes based on conceptual understanding and mathematical calculations, (3) test predictions, (4) record data, and (5) analyze data to generate results. The students first created a simple circuit to understand the circuit components and learn general electrical engineering concepts. A simple light dimmer circuit let students demonstrate understanding of electrical concepts (e.g., voltage, current resistance) before using the circuit to a simulated motor in order to launch a ball. The students were then asked to predict the time and height of a ball launched with various settings of their control circuit. The students were able to test their theories with the simulated launcher test set up shown in Figure 25 and collect data to create a parabolic height versus time graph. Based on the measured graph, the students were able to record their results and compare calculated values to real-world measured values. The results of the study suggest ways to introduce students to engineering while developing hands-on concept modeling of projectile motion and circuit design in math classrooms. Additionally, this lesson identifies a rich topic for teachers and STEM education researchers to explore lesson plans with interdisciplinary connections to engineering. This report will include the inspiration for the product, related work, iterative design process, and the final design. This information will be followed by user feedback, a project reflection, and lessons learned. The report will conclude with a summary and a discussion of future work.