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High School and First Year College Process and Product Design Experiences with Slime

Karen High, School of Chemical Engineering, Oklahoma State University, 423 Engineering North, Stillwater, OK 74078 and Charlene Yauch, Industrial Engineering and Management, Oklahoma State University, 322 Engineering North, Stillwater, OK 74074.

This paper will compare and contrast the use of a one-day “slime” project as part of a week-long summer program for high school students and the use of the same project as a multi-week project for an orientation class. Pre and post survey assessments were done and will be discussed.

In the summers of 2005 and 2006, a week-long academy, Reaching Engineering and Architecture Career Heights (REACH), was hosted by the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater. A Chemical Engineering/Industrial Engineering six-hour module was a part of this academy. During this module, the students worked on product and process design concepts related to the manufacturing of slime. The students also generated new products that used slime as a base. In the fall of 2005 and the fall of 2006, a freshman-level engineering orientation class worked on the project in a multi-week venue. The orientation course was focused on chemical engineering, but comparisons to industrial engineering were made. The paper will compare student surveys and outcomes for the slime project for high school students versus college freshmen.

Both authors felt that the project worked best in a multi-week venue with freshman-level students taking the orientation course. The authors think that five of the dimensions contributed to the varying outcomes observed. First, the orientation class was more successful because of the greater maturity level of the students. Second, the smaller class size made it easier to manage the class and to generate discussion. Third, the smaller teams helped to get all students on the team engaged in the activity. Fourth, the students that were in the orientation class had already selected Engineering as a major, so they were fairly interested in learning about engineering. Finally, the college students were able to successfully use the intermittent time between class meetings effectively for creative thinking and planning.

In 2006, the REACH academy and the orientation class will be held again. Based on our experience using the slime project in these two venues in 2005, several changes are planned for the future. The orientation class project will be tweaked to gain a better understanding of how students are using their out-of-class time. The authors plan to make more significant modifications to the summer REACH module by scheduling it over two days and possibly splitting the class in half by gender.

The use of the slime project as a retention/informational tool for the orientation class appears to have been successful based on post-module feedback and analysis of retention from the first to second semester of the freshman year. The number of students that are still pursuing CHE is 12 out of 13 students (about 92%) and is higher than the overall college retention (about 60-70%). The use of the slime project as a recruitment tool for Engineering needs to be refined.