Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Some More Ideas for getting students engaged in STEM subjects

Engineering is a passion of mine. I have a BS Degree in Mechanical Engineering-Aerospace, from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and worked for 10 years as an engineer before making a career change to education. I still do some engineering consulting work also. I use engineering concepts and ideas in my physics class, encourage students to look at engineering as a career, and run an after-school pre-engineering program at my school.

One of the ways I get students interested in science and engineering is to show them some of the cool things that scientists and engineers do. I use a variety of resources to find things to share with them and do lots of projects in class. I let them chose a project topic each year also so that they can investigate anything that they are interested in (as long as it has some relation to physics, which pretty much everything does).

There are some great videos out there from Discovery Education, on TV, and on YouTube that show technology related to something the students know. I love doing amusement park physics and let them design their own roller coasters.

You can also have guest speakers come into your class and speak to the students about their career as a scientist or engineer or mathematician. A former VP of Sikorsky Aircraft (and test pilot) was a graduate of the high school I teach at so I had him come in and speak to the students. I also take some of them to Sikorsky Aircraft for a tour of the plant and engineering.

Here are some pictures, with descriptions, that you can use with your students to get them excited about STEM topics.

Boeing Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche Helicopter
Stealth, composite structures, very fast and manueverable

Engineer's workstation - high powered desktop with CAD software on left screen and internet on right. Very cool to use. This is my workstation from one of the consulting jobs I did recently. 

Engineer's work bench. Work on prototypes. 

Laser Cutter. Uses laser to cut through metal up to 1" thick. 

CAD drawing of a printer. 

Analysis view of a race car. Airflow analysis. 

Schlieren photography of a hairdryer showing airflow due to temperature differences. 

CAD drawing of a large tractor. 

Cutaway drawing of a Pratt and Whitney Turbofan Engine. 

FlowJet - uses a high pressure stream of water to cut metal. That always gets them excited. 

Cutaway of a Boeing 777. 

CAD Drawing of a small aircraft. 

Pictures, videos, guest speakers, field trips, and projects are all great ways of getting students more interested and engaged in STEM subjects.

Other STEM Resources:

STEM - description, ideas and resources for educators

More Engineering Resources for K12 Educators and Students


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