In the U.S., there is a growing inequality of access to science and math courses as well as to higher education prerequisites. INSPIRE, a research center at Purdue University dedicated to promoting engineering education among P-12 students, hypothesizes that utilizing engineering as an applied context with innovative teacher support structures will increase elementary and middle school student’s achievement in math and science and foster early interest in related careers. We will examine our hypothesis with a cluster randomized trial study with two objectives: (i) Evaluating the effect on students’ core academic achievement in math and science when an engineering context is applied through Engineering is Elementary (EIE), model-eliciting activities (MEAs) and children’s literature curricula; and (ii) Improving and developing existing/field-tested curriculum and support for teachers. Each of the three large school districts involved has a proven relationship and commitment with INSPIRE and a large population of minority students. We will use mentor training and on-line courses to optimize teachers’ professional development contact hours. All data will be generated from classroom settings. In total, an estimated 15,200 students (approx. 4,500 minority students) and 1152 teachers will be engaged. Curriculum will be developed in English and Spanish, and appeal to both genders by emphasizing the empathetic “social goods”aspects of an engineering career. INSPIRE’s research will determine if using the applied integrative context of engineering will advance students’ academic achievement, critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities and prepares them for an increasingly technical workplace.
To learn more, contact Johannes Strobel.