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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Jacquelyn F Sullivan
  • (303) 492-8303
  • Malinda S Zarske
  • Angela Bielefeldt
  • Fernando Rosario-Ortiz
Award Date:03/05/2010
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 2,835,349
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 3,356,478
  • FY 2011=$1,242,460
  • FY 2012=$717,996
  • FY 2013=$720,498
  • FY 2010=$675,524
Start Date:03/15/2010
End Date:02/28/2018
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040106 NSF Education & Human Resource
Award Title or Description:New GK-12: Engineering for Society - An Energy and Environmental Sustainability Research Pathway to Cultivate Engineering Leaders and Enrich Education for Disadvantaged Youth
Federal Award ID Number:0946502
DUNS ID:007431505
Parent DUNS ID:007431505
Program Officer:
  • Mary Poats
  • (703) 292-5357

Awardee Location

Street:3100 Marine Street, Room 481
Awardee Cong. District:02

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Colorado at Boulder
Street:3100 Marine Street, Room 481
Cong. District:02

Abstract at Time of Award

New GK-12: Engineering for Society ? An Energy and Environmental Sustainability Research Pathway to Cultivate Engineering Leaders and Enrich Education for Disadvantaged Youth 2010 NSF Proposal Abstract, University of Colorado at Boulder This project cultivates diverse engineering PhD students to become future engineering leaders while serving K-12 students traditionally underrepresented in engineering. Through extensive K-12 student contact, ten fellows annually translate their engineering research into hands-on K-12 STEM curricula, engaging K-12 students and teachers through connecting engineering design to the study of science and math. These K-12 experiences impact fellows through the pairing of real-world opportunities with their research, and fellows gain communication and pedagogy skills as they communicate their research through the creation and delivery of K-12 STEM curriculum. Our experience has shown that teacher STEM confidence is strengthened by the exchange of pedagogy and subject matter, and student STEM learning is enhanced, preparing youngsters for high school pre-engineering programs. Questions of intellectual merit addressed: How is PhD students? understanding of their research impacted by sharing it with non-technical audiences? How do K-12 experiences promote engineering fellows? becoming STEM leaders? Do teachers who contribute to fellows? education subsequently realize deeper passion and independence in teaching science and engineering? Do school districts that provide hands-on engineering experiences realize higher graduation rates and STEM college matriculation? How can colleges institutionalize K-12 teaching in PhD engineering graduate programs? Innovative approaches: Diversity-focused national recruitment of professoriate-bound future engineering educators, resulting in diverse PhD graduates entering the workforce with a research interest applied in a broader context; enrichment of teacher STEM content through engineering-focused professional development workshops; fellows improvement of STEM literacy in high-needs schools; and nationally disseminated classroom-tested curriculum via the NSF-funded TeachEngineering digital library.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Samson, C.C, Sullivan, J.F., Reitsma R.F., and Soltys, M. "The Relevance of K-12 Engineering Curricula to NGSS: An Analysis of TeachEngineering-NGSS Alignments" Juried Conference Paper, v., 2015, p..

Zarske, M. S., Yowell, J. L., Sullivan, J. F., Bielefeldt, A. R., Oâ??Hair, M. T., & Knight, D. W. "K-12 Engineering for Service: Do Project-Based Service-Learning Design Experiences Impact Attitudes in High School Engineering Students?" Proceedings, ASEE Annual Conference, v., 2012, p..

Rivale, S., Aiken, J., Adhikary, S., Yowell, J., Knight, D. and Sullivan, J. "Elementary Students Perceptions of Engineers: Using a Draw-an-Engineer Test to Evaluate the Impact of Classroom Engineering Experiences and Explicit Engineering Messaging" Proceedings, American Society of Engineering Education, v.June, 2011, p..

Yowell, Janet L. and Jacquelyn F. Sullivan "Who Should Be an Engineer? Messaging as a Tool for Student Recruitment and Retention" The Bridge, v.summer, 2011, p..

Forbes, Marissa H., Sullivan, Jacquelyn F. "Ascertaining the Impact of P-12 Engineering Education Initiatives: Student Impact through Teacher Impact" Juried Conference Paper, v., 2017, p..

Zarske, M.S., Reamon, D.T., and D. Knight "Altruistic Engineering Projects: Do Project-Based Service-Learning Designs Impact Attitudes In First-Year Engineering Students?" Proceedings, ASEE Annual Conference, v.June, 2011, p..

Zarske, Malinda S., Yowell, Janet L., Ringer, Heidi L., Sullivan, Jacquelyn F., and Quiñones, Patricia, A. "The Skyline TEAMS Model: A Longitudinal Look at the Impacts of K-12 Engineering on Perception, Preparation and Persistence" Advances in Engineering Education, v.3(2), 2012, p..

Reitsma, R., Marshall, B., and Zarske, M. "Aspects of Relevance in the Alignment of Curriculum with Educational Standards" Information Processing and Management, v.46, 2010, p.362.

Yowell, Janet "Inspiring and Building Tomorrow's Workforce: A K-12 Engineering Continuum" American Society of Quality (ASQ), Education Brief, v., 2010, p..

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

Over seven years, the University of Colorado Boulder’s Engineering for Society—An Energy and Environmental Sustainability Research Pathway to Cultivate Engineering Leaders and Enrich Education for Disadvantaged Youth GK-12 Program connected engineering PhD student fellows with K-12 students in four school districts. Forty-one graduate students served as mentors to more than 3,000 K-12 students during in-class and afterschool programs that cultivated design thinking through hands-on engineering activities from the TeachEngineering Digital Library. Overall program goals and key project outcomes included:

Enhance Fellows’ understanding of the global and societal context of their own research. Fellows shared their research with community members to enhance public understanding and increase interest in science, engineering and technology. Regular interactions and discussions with K-12 students and teachers aided the Fellows in solidifying and refining their abilities to communicate their research.

Develop Fellows to become STEM and social leaders. Countless teachers stated that the Fellows who taught in their classrooms served as fabulous engineering role models for youngsters. Many Fellows expressed plans to continue to participate in K-12 engineering outreach post-fellowship because the experience was so rewarding and gave additional meaning to their subject matter research.

Recruit highly qualified, diverse engineering PhD students. While it was a challenge to recruit underrepresented PhD students for the K-12 STEM fellowship, the team was successful in recruiting women engineering PhD students as K-12 Fellows who became outstanding role models to K-12 girls and their teachers, breaking down gender-based stereotypes.

Improve teachers’ skill and comfort with STEM content knowledge and pedagogy. Teachers commented that having CU Fellows in their classrooms gave them the confidence to discuss with their students a variety of aspects related to engineering. One teacher stated, “Over the years, the collaboration that our engineering department has had with the CU TEAMS Fellows has been irreplaceable. We are better teachers, our classes are more impactful, and our students’ experiences with engineering are richer because of the partnership we have had with CU Boulder Engineering.”

Transform a nine-school [Skyline High] feeder system into a successful STEM-focused school district-university partnership. The TEAMS program was a catalyst for the St. Vrain Valley School District to attain a $16 million Race to the Top grant. And, the district leveraged its CU university partnership and was rewarded with the distinction being only one of two Colorado school districts to offer the Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools program—which launched in fall 2016 with ~50 mostly minority ninth-grade students on a computer programming track. The Longmont, CO, community supported the district’s desire to become a design-focused school district with a $20M bond issue that included a new 50,000 square foot K-12 Innovation Center that opens in August 2018.

Employ engineering content and practices to enrich STEM learning by K-12 students. Program organizers expected student interest in engineering and knowledge of engineering careers to grow throughout the years. The results from interest and knowledge surveys administered each year in grades 5-12 classes include:

Engineering Interest. Across ages and genders, a mixed pattern was observed. Decreasing interest in engineering was the trend for girls once in high school, following the national pattern. Pre/post- survey assessments showed an increase in students’ interest to study engineering in college. For example, during the 2016-17 academic year, students’ classroom experiences doing engineering-based lessons along with college-level engineering role model interactions resulted in a pre/post jump from 35% to 63% interest in studying engineering in college.

Engineering Career Knowledge. At the partner schools, engineering knowledge increased throughout the academic year for both boys and girls—and as they moved through the elementary to middle to high school continuum. Teacher and student post-surveys indicated that students not only learn about engineering design and careers, but learned more broadly about the possibilities of a college education in their futures.

Engage advisors as Fellows create and deliver research-based, hands-on, engineering curricula. Fellows and advisors worked together to bring cutting-edge research topics into classrooms in age-appropriate and relevant ways. Fellows also partnered with advisors to develop hands-on curricula. Engaging advisors had additional benefits, as summarized by a partner teacher, “Meeting with CU professors, our teachers were able to vertically align the content that they teach and make sure they are preparing students for future success with the engineering program at CU and other institutions.”

Broadly disseminate results. During the grant period, fifteen publications shared the program design and research results. The GK-12 Program made a nationwide impact through curricular contributions and leadership of the TeachEngineering Digital Library, and locally by raising the college leadership team’s awareness of the challenges involved in preparing K-12 youth—especially those from populations underrepresented in engineering—for a future in engineering.

Last Modified: 06/05/2018
Modified by: Jacquelyn F Sullivan

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