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A Program for Introducing Engineering Concepts into High Schools and Middle Schools

Richard Zollars1, William J. Thomson1, and Donald Orlich2. (1) School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, Washington State University, PO Box 642710, Pullman, WA 99164-2710, (2) Science, Mathematics, Engineering Education Center, Washington State University, PO Box 642710, Pullman, WA 99164-2710

A problem facing the United States is the declining numbers of students expressing an interest, or majoring, in engineering. Recently the American College Testing organization reported that between 1992 and 2003 the percentage of high school students expressing an interest in majoring in engineering dropped from 9% to 6%. In addition to the lack of numbers there is also the recurring problem of the lack of preparedness among US students in math and science. While many programs have been started to address these problems there is a growing movement towards teaming college faculty with K-12 teachers as a means of addressing these issues. At Washington State University a program aimed at addressing these issues started in 1993. This activity is currently being conducted via a Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) grant from the National Science Foundation. By having high school and middle school science and mathematics teachers on the campus of six weeks during a summer connections are formed between the teachers and their university mentors that will help inform students about the opportunities in engineering. Our experiences will be described as well as potential future directions.