Catapulting into STEM education : female students’ interactions within a middle school engineering project

Hudson, Peter B., English, Lyn D., & Dawes, Les A. (2012) Catapulting into STEM education : female students’ interactions within a middle school engineering project. In Yu, Shengquan (Ed.) Proceedings of the 2nd International STEM in Education Conference, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China.

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Despite efforts to motivate students to engage in Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, women are still underrepresented in these areas in the workforce and higher education. Targeting females at high school or earlier may be a key towards engaging them in STEM. In this paper we report on the research question: How do middle school females interact for learning about engineering education? This ethnographic study, part of a three-year longitudinal research project, investigated Year 8 female students’ learning about engineering concepts associated with designing, constructing, testing, and evaluating a catapult. Through a series of lead-up lessons and the four lesson catapult challenge (total of 18 x 45-minute lessons over 9 weeks), data from two girls within a focus group showed that the students needed to: (1) receive clarification on engineering terms to facilitate more fluent discourse, (2) question and debate conceptual understandings without peers being judgemental, and (3) have multiple opportunities for engaging with materials towards designing, constructing and explaining key concepts learnt. Implications for teachers undertaking STEM education are evident, including outlining expectations for clarifying STEM terms, outlining to students about interacting non-judgementally, and providing multiple opportunities for interacting within engineering education.

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ID Code: 55620
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: A select number of exceptional papers from STEM 2012 will be considered for publishing in relevant journals cited by SSCI or SCI Indexed
Keywords: middle schooling, girls’ education, engineering education, mathematics and science education
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Science Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy (130212)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Curriculum
Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 please consult the authors
Deposited On: 14 Dec 2012 02:26
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2013 00:20

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