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Using engineering activities to engage middle school students in physics and biology


Ward, L and Lyden, S and Fitzallen, N and Leon de la Barra, B, Using engineering activities to engage middle school students in physics and biology, Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, 20, (2) pp. 145-156. ISSN 1325-4340 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 Engineers Australia

DOI: doi:10.1080/22054952.2015.1130092


It is well documented that female students show greater engagement with the biological sciences whilst male students gravitate towards the physical sciences. In this study, it is proposed that implementing learning programmes that utilise the engineering process has the potential to influence middle school students’ interest in academic disciplines where their gender is underrepresented. To foster boys’ and girls’ curiosity for and engagement with biology and physics, respectively, middle school students worked through a series of engineering tasks delivered by a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Education and Outreach Team. The activities included a series of hands-on workshops that focused on biomedical technology and the physics of human hearing and speech. The research included an analysis of data collected through student surveys. The survey included an adapted Draw-A-Scientist Test. The learning programme’s outcomes are discussed in terms of influence on student engagement and the way in which students identify with physics and biology careers and occupations.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:STEM, engineering, middle school, biology, physics
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Curriculum and pedagogy
Research Field:Science, technology and engineering curriculum and pedagogy
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Other education and training
Objective Field:Other education and training not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Ward, L (Ms Lauren Ward)
UTAS Author:Lyden, S (Dr Sarah Lyden)
UTAS Author:Fitzallen, N (Dr Noleine Fitzallen)
UTAS Author:Leon de la Barra, B (Dr Bernardo Leon de la Barra)
ID Code:106138
Year Published:2016
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2016-02-01
Last Modified:2018-02-02

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