CU-Boulder Students Introduce Engineering To K-12 Classrooms

Published: May 19, 2003

While most University of Colorado students have completed the semester and moved on to summer jobs and internships, students participating in the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program's "Fellows in the Classroom" project are still hard at work teaching engineering to elementary students in local schools.

Over the last four years, a total of 35 graduate and undergraduate engineering students have integrated engineering topics with standards-based science and math skills, and taught them through interesting, hands-on activities to more than 5,000 Colorado students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The Fellows have been paid a stipend through a grant from the National Science Foundation, which expires this year.

During the final month of the program, six Fellows continue to introduce the principles of engineering in classrooms in the Boulder Valley, St. Vrain Valley and Adams County 50 school districts.

Tyman Stephens, a master's candidate in the aerospace engineering sciences department, is working with students in eight different classrooms. While Stephens teaches Tobey Bassoff's fifth-grade class at Columbine Elementary in Longmont about Newton's Third Law of Motion, students in Martha Goodenow's first-grade class at Harris Park Elementary in Westminster are learning about satellites and solar energy.

"The students enjoy and look forward to the interaction with the CU student engineers. They are excellent role models and teach students about engineering, a subject that might otherwise remain unknown to them," Goodenow said.

As the nation suffers a shortage of college graduates who enter the engineering workforce, CU-Boulder's ITL Program strives to reach populations typically underrepresented in the engineering profession -- girls, minority students and first-generation college-bound youngsters - and to increase their awareness and interest in engineering as a possible career choice.

In addition to the Fellows in the Classroom, ITL outreach efforts include several weeklong summer engineering classes for kids, a six-week information technology internship for 36 high school girls, summer professional development workshops for elementary teachers and a weeklong summer engineering institute for high school boys and girls.

"With continued student exposure and teacher training, we hope to see engineering move to the forefront of educational options for young learners and, ultimately, to increase the number of students who experience first-hand that engineering is about creating things for the benefit of society," said ITL Outreach Director Jackie Sullivan.

The ITL is seeking private funding to continue the Fellows program. For more information, please contact Janet Yowell at (303) 492-5230.