- 4:27 PM

The Great Orange Squeeze: Using Chemical Engineering and the Engineering Design Process to Prepare Middle School Educators for the Massachusetts Engineering Framework Requirements

Katherine S. Ziemer1, Saloni Bhardwaj1, Paula Leventman2, and Reisberg Rachelle2. (1) Chemical Engineering, Northeastern University, 360 Huntington Avenue, 148 Egan Research Center, Boston, MA 02115, (2) College of Engineering, Northeastern University, 360 Huntington Avenue, 148 Egan Research Center, Boston, MA 02115

In the middle schools in Massachusetts, the engineering framework is tested as part of the compulsory Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exam. The engineering framework requirement provides an opportunity to introduce problem-based learning modules on engineering and technology, to motivate students to pursue math, science and engineering careers, and to increase technical literacy of students. The goal of the NSF-sponsored 4 Schools for WIE (Women in Engineering) project is to use this opportunity to infuse the curriculum with gender-neutral modules and activities that focus on engineering and technology and support the engineering curriculum strand in Massachusetts's middle schools. 4 Schools for WIE uses all-female STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Teams to help teachers develop engineering education modules, and to serve as in-class resources for teachers in the greater Boston area. The Great Orange Squeeze is one of the educational modules developed by the Northeastern University/Raytheon STEM Team. The Great Orange Squeeze is a hands-on, open-ended problem that illustrates both the differences and the interdependence of science and engineering in defining a problem and creating a solution. The students are posed with the challenge: “How can we get nutritious, good-tasting orange juice from Florida to kindergarten breakfast programs in Boston Public Schools for $0.25 an 8-ounce glass?” The goal of the problem scenario is to involve student interest in a gender equitable, class-equitable and culture-equitable way, and to share the message that engineers and scientists are involved in solving real problems that benefit society as a whole. There are 6 activities as part of the Great Orange Squeeze module that lead students through the engineering design process and allow them to discover the interdependence of science and engineering. The module was developed and has been through 3 pilot tests and subsequent revisions. Since the first pilot, the module was expanded from 3 to 6 separate activities. Different extensions and options for flexibility have been incorporated to allow teachers to use part or the entire 6-activity module. Independent evaluation of the students' attitudes toward engineering show a statistically significant increase in interest in pursuing engineering careers in those students who before the intervention, were uninterested in engineering.