Go Green - Using sustainability engineering in a middle school summer program

Roy McGrann, Wayne Jones, Susannah Gal, Andy Cavagnetto, Dan Brennan, Thomas O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The Go Green Institute is an interdisciplinary collaboration of engineers, scientists, and educators serving fourteen middle-school school districts in southern New York. The institute's aim is to increase students' understanding of science concepts and skills related to environmental sustainability and broaden students' perceptions of engineering, science, and math careers through a range of exciting activities that students do not experience in school. The resulting 10-day learning experience integrates (1) Biology/Life Science, (2) Chemistry/Physical Science, and (3) Math/Engineering by framing instruction and activities around climate change and sustainability issues. Students participated in advanced coursework in the form of interactive content sessions, fieldtrips and guest speakers, and experiments/team projects. As part of the evaluation plan for the Go Green Institute, pre-experience and postexperience assessments were administered to the participating students to determine whether or not measurable change in knowledge and skills could be detected as a result of the institute. Items were selected from the state-wide assessments by using an item map which correlated each test question with a specific science standard and key idea (or ideas). A total of 38 post-assessments were returned and analyzed. The surveys also suggest that the institute influenced student perceptions of possible careers. Greater than 50% of participants indicated that they were likely or very likely to pursue an academic major in a science related field (53%) or a math/engineering related field (63%). Further, 65% identified new career possibilities since participating in the Go Green Institute. Analysis of the pre and post assessment data indicates that a statistically significant difference in performance was detected. Specifically, the mean raw score increased over the institute timeframe and the standard deviation around the mean decreased. These data present the possibility that the students, in aggregate, demonstrated a slightly high level of mastery when measured against the same standards pre and post, and that the group as a whole came closer to sharing a common core of understanding of the content as illustrated in the fact that there were fewer low scores on the post than on the pre-assessment and that responses, in general depicted a tighter pattern around the mean score. We also surveyed students about their future career considerations and perceptions of the institute. Surveys results revealed that the institute offered students a broad view of science and science careers. The institute did introduce concepts in active and exciting ways which students found engaging. Based on all of the data, we contend that the Go Green Institute achieved its initial goals of (1) increasing student understanding of science and math skills and concepts related to environmental sustainability issues, and (2) Increase the scope of science career opportunities that the participants were considering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)

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