GOES Progress Report - July 95

GOES (Girls' Opportunities in Engineering and Sciences) Model Project
NSF #HRD9453683- Progress Report

Project Directors: D. Ball, B. Onaral and L. Schadler

Co-PIs: X. S. He, M. Koczak, C. Welty, m. A. Wheatley

Date: July 6, 1995

The GOES project is an out-reach effort which seeks to remedy detrimental effects of women's under-representation in engineering by creating an engineering workshop that GOES (Girls' Opportunities in Engineering and Science) to middle schools and junior high schools located more than an hour away from Drexel University. It builds upon the successful experience of the Drexel University Women in Engineering Program in reaching out to local young women through on-campus engineering career days. With the GOES project, we have enlarged our local interaction range by creating a mobile unit while continuing to access schools within the one-hour radius with our existing career day program.

The GOES program targets pre-High School students, specifically those in grades 6 to 9. During this critical stage, students finalize their decisions about pursuing high school courses in mathematics and science. The goal of the project is to raise the awareness of these students as well as their teachers, counselors, and parents about the opportunities offered by the engineering profession. The specific aim is to facilitate their interest and motivate the students to pursue science and mathematics subjects which constitute the building blocks of an engineering education.

During the GOES events, students are given an opportunity for hands-on engineering experiments while informally interacting with engineering college faculty and students as well as practicing women engineers. We have found that this combination of activities is an excellent method for acquainting students with the engineering profession, and capturing the students interest. The GOES experiments are designed to convey the fun and excitement of applied sciences and engineering. The discovery and exploration element is emphasized to give them a taste of engineering practice.

To ensure that the GOES events have lasting effects on the students, teacher and parental involvement is encouraged as suggested by studies that have shown their primary influence on girls' career decisions. Another benefit of educator and parent participation will be to introduce them to the practice of modern engineering and the role that women engineers are playing in affecting a fundamental culture change.

Progress Report

This report details pre and post GOES trip logistics, the design and delivery of experiments and the preparation of materials.

(For additional information and visuals about the GOES project, please visit the Drexel University Women in Engineering WWW Site at http://berl3.ece.drexel.edu/wie/
The GOES Project Page is linked to'WiE Projects' list.)

  1. School Selection.
    The school selection was based on previous contacts made by the Women in Engineering Program with individual teachers at schools. Contacts were made through on-campus career days, attendance at various local functions (such as Penn State's Option Program) and other Drexel sponsored events where high school teachers were present.
    Visited Sites
    1 Elementary School - Parochial - Suburban - Coed
    1 Junior High School - Public - Rural - Coed
    1 Middle School - Public - Suburban - Coed

    Planned Sites
    1 Middle School - Public - Rural - Coed
    1 Elementary School - Parochial - Suburban - Coed
    1 Middle School - Public - Rural - Coed
    1 Upper School - Private - Suburban - Girls
    1 Middle School - Public - Suburban - Coed

    The schedule and site listing is appended (Appendix I).

  2. School Contact.
    When a school expressed interest in the program, the teacher (or other school personnel) was sent the Project Summary of the NSF proposal. In most cases, this was necessary for the teacher (or other school personnel) to obtain the necessary approval from the school administration. In addition, a letter was sent indicating there was no cost to the school and outlining the responsibilities of the schools.

    Two weeks prior to the trip, the project manager made a preliminary site visit. During this visit, the project manager examined the room, prepared a preliminary lab layout, reviewed lunch procedures for project personnel, discussed the numbers of students, parents and teachers attending, provided the school coordinator with a list of necessary equipment (tables, chairs, VCR and overhead projector) and answered any detail questions for the school personnel.

  3. Responsibility of the Schools.
    Schools were asked to provide a large multi-purpose room with tables and chairs. The schools were also asked to notify parents and teachers as well as to select the students who would be attending the program. (We asked that each school select 50 girls).1 The first three schools visited offered lunch to the project personnel.

  4. Selection of Students.
    After the first three visits, it became clear that the issue of "self-selection" was very important. When girls were given the opportunity to attend an all day program on engineering, there was a response rate of about 10%. To correct this problem, we developed a flyer that could be distributed to each girl to further describe the program.

    When all girls were required to go, there was as much enthusiasm (if not more). This method seemed to much more in keeping with our goal of introducing engineering to all girls just-in-time for the right high school course selections. When girls self-selected, they were in general "good in math and sicence" and probably would continue with math and science. Since the objective of the program is to present engineering as a career option for all girls, reaching girls who might not take the right sequences to prepare for an engineering education became a priority.

  5. Parents and Teachers.
    Parent and teacher participation has been below expectations. Teachers "stopped in" during their free period or lunch period. Although we were able to give them a "package" and talk to them one-on-one and give them the opportunity to observe the labs, it was not the "full" experience we had hoped to provide.2 In addition, parental involvement was also more limited than we had expected. The parents who did attend, usually brought small children with them which interfered with a complete program as originally envisioned. However, we were able to interact with them one-on-one, provide an opportunity to observe and/or participate in the labs and provide them with reading materials about engineering and gender-free education.

  6. Cooperation with Drexel University.
    Drexel's cooperation has been vital to the GOES trips. The Office of Enrollment Management provided a van (free of charge) as well as an admissions counselor who accompanied us and provided additional support during the day. In addition, the College of Engineering provided a large office space for the GOES project. This enabled us to maintain a working computer laboratory for the program developers as well as adequate storage space for the laboratory materials.

  7. Room Configuration.
    The room is divided into five sections. (Usually four corners and the center). In one corner 50 chairs are set up for the "Introductory Session" and "Closing Session". Posters are put on easels around the room about famous women inventors and engineers.3 (See suggestions section for further ideas regarding the posters.)

  8. Schedule.
    All schools have preferred the "full-day" model. This includes a 1/2 hour introductory talk about engineering, 4 - 40 minute laboratories, a 30 minute "free time" (during which students can return to the activity they liked best), and a closing 1/2 hour talk and evaluation period. The team arrives 1/2 hour before the start time for set-up (which in provides an hour for set-up because students do not start the laboratories until 1/2 hour into the program.) During the closing session, the laboratories are broken down and loaded into the van. (This usually takes 1/2 hour.)

  9. Personnel.
    Each experiment is conducted by the developer(s) of that particular laboratory. In addition, the project manager, an admissions counselor and the project coordinator attend each field trip. This "extra" personnel is vital. These individuals are available to talk to faculty, solve last minute problems, help with lab set-ups, picture-taking and other details.

  10. Introductory Session.
    A folder and a pen is given to each student as she enters the room. Using four different colors, the color of the folder indicates the group that the student will be with for the day (this allows for four groups with 7 to 13 girls in a group). In addition to the day's schedule, each folder contains (1) "Engineering and You" brochure4 , (2) a listing of the Engineering Professional Society and their addresses, (3) "Is Engineering for Me?" -- considerations when choosing careers which provides a summary of the topics we wish to cover through the day's activities, (4) Movie "do" sheet, (5) Descriptions of the four basic fields of engineering, (6) the difference between engineering and science, and (7) Do I have the Aptitude for Engineering - a list of some the aptitudes needed for engineering. Each of these hand-outs is copied on a different color paper so as to be easily identified.

    The structure of the introductory sessions includes:

    (1) a Warm-up Exercise (5 minutes) - The girls identify the process of waking up and coming to school -- we then identify how an engineer was involved in each step (as well as identifying the speciality). We ask if the girls know any engineers and if they know what they do. (See closing session remarks).

    (2) Startling Statistics (5 minutes) - The girls are given a hand-out and asked to guess the various percentages pertaining to the careers chosen by women. Salaries are included.

    (3) Description of day (5 minutes) - The girls look at the schedule. They are told that they are going to be engineers for the day attending a professional conference and are given name tags. (This has proved to be much more successful than expected. They love putting on the name tags and, in fact, in the first two visits the girls requested name tags that said "Hello, My Name Is".)

    (4) Introductions (4 minutes) - The presenter goes around the room and introduces by name and profession the individual(s) at each station. Each person is identified by their field in order to reinforce that each woman is an engineer. So the girls may hear 10 times "Mary Smith and she is a chemical engineer". We hope that this verbal reinforcement will have lasting effect by associating an engineering field with women faculty and students whom they get to know at close range as they work on their experiments.

    (5) Review the sheet "Is Engineering for Me?"(3 minutes) - This is to give the students the same focus we have. In addition, we reiterate that this process can be used for any career exploration.

    (6) Movie (8 minutes) - "Bikes! Art, Elegance and Engineering".5 The girls are asked to use the movie "do sheet" in their folders as they watch the movie. These sheets help the girls to listen for the "action words" -- what engineers do, the types of engineers and the skills and aptitudes needed by engineers.

  11. Laboratory Experiments - Development.
    Professors and/or graduate students from each department were asked to develop laboratories for various engineering specialties. Each laboratory was required to be hands-on and if, possible, provide each student with a tangible "take home" piece. Prior to the development of these laboratories, a middle school teacher conducted a two hour workshop to describe the ways to best meet the needs of this age group. Each laboratory is 40 minutes long. We tried time periods of 1 hour, 45 minutes and 40 minutes and 40 minutes worked best.

  12. Laboratory Experiments - Organization.
    The materials needed for each laboratory are stored in individual 18 gal. Rubbermaid container. On top of each of these containers the name of the lab and the contents are listed. The coordinator makes sure that each container is replenished after each trip so as to be ready for the next one. (In particular we found the K'Nex pieces must be recounted for each trip -- no matter how we have tried the piece count gets confused.) On the day before a scheduled trip, the containers for the selected laboratories are once again checked to be sure they contain the necessary equipment.

  13. Laboratory Experiments - Descriptions.

  14. Other Considerations about the Laboratories.
    Mishaps happen! Backup preparations have been planned. K'Nex can be done by all students at the same time. Software has been purchased so that girls can work on the computers individually or in groups. (Titles include A.D.A.M., Compton's Encyclopedia, Widget, MathTrix, The Incredible Laboratory7, and Gears8.)

  15. Free-Time.
    This session was included in the program as a result of a student suggestion on the first visit. She wanted more time to continue with one of the laboratories. On the next two visits, we have found that this time also allows the girls more time to interact one-on-one with the women engineers.

  16. Closing Session - What do Engineers Do?
    (1) The girls have a group picture taken with all the K'Nex Designs. These are reprinted for each girls and mailed to them approximately 2 weeks after the day.

    (2) In the Introductory Session we asked the girls what do engineers do. To date, no one has been able to identify anything in the opening session. But by the end of the day, they have lots of ideas to describe what an engineer does. By giving the girls time to verbally identify these in the larger group setting, we also reinforce to them what they have learned during the day.

    (3) This discussion is followed up with a movie "Who are Engineers? You?"9 (12 minutes).

    (4) An evaluation is distributed and completed.

  17. Program Improvements
    (1) As discussed above, the involvement of parents and teachers during the program was not possible. To solve this problem, we plan to follow up each program by attending a PTA meeting and/or a teacher in-service day. The idea of attending these meetings is to build on the enthusiasm with which the girls leave the program and to extend the ideas learned by the girls to the parents and teachers at pre-scheduled meetings where our presentation can be part of the agenda. To this end, both the program manager and program coordinator have attended the 2-day "Train the Trainer" workshop offered by the Pennsylvania AAUW for Gender Equity Workshops.10

    (2) To encourage the girls to look at the posters, we would like to develop a "quiz" based on the information on the posters. A "prize" in terms of a poster (or similar item) would be awarded to all girls who completed the quiz. We plan to obtain multiple copies of a poster produced by the Mechanical Engineering Society called "Engineering is for Everybody".

  18. Considerations for the Remaining Trips.
    (1) A good percentage of the girls seem to begin to lose interest in any activity after the third lab. The committe needs to consider reducing the number of laboratories to 3.

    (2) An outside evaluator should be identified to accompany us on some of the fall trips.

  19. Considerations for Future
    (1) A flyer should be developed to describe the program and sent to all area school districts, parochial schools (grades 1-8) and private girls's schools.

  20. Other Comments
    (1) In our experience, no school or school administrator expressed concern about presenting the program to girls only. On the contrary, most administrators are aware of the problem and have been more than willing to accommodate us.

    (2) On the first three trips, each school asked if we could return to their school in following years.

Appendix I: GOES Schedule and Site Listing

March 3, 1995
Upper Merion Middle School
King of Prussia, PA

April 4, 1995
St Teresa Regional School
27 East Evesham Road
Runnemede, NJ 08078

May 25, 1995
Wilson Junior High School
Boyertown, PA

September 22, 1995
Newtown Junior High School
Newtown, PA

October 10, 1995
St Philip and James School
Exton, PA

October 30, 1995
Gordon Middle School
351 Kersey Street
Coatesville, PA 19320

November 16, 1995
Academy of Notre Dame
560 Sproul Road
Villanova, PA 19085

ET Richardson Middle School
Springfield, PA 19064

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