Introducing High School Freshman Students to Typical Chemical Engineering Research

Monday, October 17, 2011
Exhibit Hall B (Minneapolis Convention Center)
Sami Alouani1, Steffano Oyanader1, Mario Oyanader2 and ALI Alouani3, (1)Cookeville High School, Cookeville, TN, (2)Chemical Engineering, Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, TN, (3)eLECTRICAL eNGINEERING, TENNESSEE TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY, Cookeville, TN

Getting high school students interest in a Chemical Engineering carrier represent a great challenge as they may not really relate the profession to something they do in a daily basis. Even more challenging is to capture student interest in Chemical Engineering research without presenting the student an appealing fun experience. In this pilot project, high school freshman students has been challenge to investigate the possibility of using saliva as a potential reactant in the making of ethanol. Although, in the actual experiment the students used α-Amylase instead of saliva, the relationship between the two is something they found out by themselves as part of their critical thinking process. Typical practices of Process Design and Design of Experiment were introduced as the students’ research journey evolved calling for more robust ideas and explanation of phenomena. Students were closely monitored in their execution of the scientific method without emphasizing the learning of new technical words but in the understanding of new concepts using hand on approaches.  A detail description of experiences by the very own actors of this paper is intended to be presented as a case study for future consideration when working with STEM students. Among the many results, the students registered and won a third place at the local University STEM project competition this year.  This particular example validates the high quality of the final product and therefore the introduction to research approach used in this case may be of great benefit to recruit potential CHEME students.

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