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The evaluation is guided by the following research questions:
- Is the development and implementation of project materials, recruitment strategies, training, and course activities well designed and integrated into the project’s goals?
- How do participants experience the project?
- What is the initial impact of the project on families, undergraduate engineering students, and project partners (e.g., universities, museums)?
- What are the programmatic and strategic recommendations for the improvement of the project?
The program is evaluated by Center for Children and Technology at Education Development Center, Inc.
Year 4 Findings
- Children felt that the program helped them better understand science and engineering
- Children indicated that participating in the program increased their interest in science in school
- Children reported being more willing to persist through failure
- Children expressed greater enthusiasm for tackling challenging activities.
- Parents indicated that they and their children were learning about science content
- Parents’ STEM-related child-rearing practices improved.
- Parents who attended more than one Family Science program reported doing more science-related activities outside the program.
“I like spending time with my daughters, seeing how their minds work and how they challenge themselves.”
- Engineers developed improved science communication skills
- Engineers saw improvement in their public speaking skills
- Engineers had the opportunity to develop a design challenge from start to end and actively build that challenge
- Engineers enjoyed connecting with the community and inspiring the next generation of builders, engineers, and inventors using their own technical work.
Year 3 Findings
- Children gained positive attitudes towards STEM activities, including building things, informal science programs, and exploring concepts to learn more about.
- Children believe that they can go on to be good scientists and or engineers
- Children become more persistent in solving design challenges
- Children are more excited about doing challenging STEM activities
- Parents developed positive attitude towards STEM programs
- Parents developed a positive perception of STEM jobs and careers
- Parents’ STEM-related child-rearing practices improved.
- Engineers learned how to create lesson plans and gained a better understanding of how to create engaging engineering design challenges
- Engineers enjoyed contributing to the local community
- Engineers sharpened their understanding of key engineering concepts
- Engineers enjoyed going to school sites and creating prototypes
Year 2 Findings
- Children are learning new concepts and vocabulary and actually remembering them weeks and months after the class is over. In fact, three quarters of children reported that since taking Family Science, they have a better understanding of science and engineering (74.8%).
- Children said they share their knowledge with their siblings and friends after they learn something interesting in the Family Science class. The children feel empowered to share what they know with others.
- Some children have been inspired to become scientists. They have gained confidence in their scientific knowledge and ability.
- Three quarters of children reported now being more interested in science at school (74.8%).
- Parents are able to spend more time with their children and it brings the family closer together.
- Parents learn about how common objects and machines function. They are more able to explain how things work to their children and other family members. According to the survey, 77.8% of parents reported that they understand science and engineering better and 66.6% said they were more confident talking about science and engineering topics with others.
- There are more science related activities going on at home such as building things out, playing with science kits, watching science programs, and going to museums and zoos. On the survey, 88.9% of parents also say they will read more science books with their children.
- Parents are more confident because their children see them as people who know things, who can build things and who can solve problems.
- Students commented that they learned practical skills like critical thinking, creativity, public speaking, and collaboration skills that they didn’t necessarily learn in other classes.
- Because they were communicating with an audience with little engineering background, the Engineers as Teachers (EasT) students learned how to simplify their language and break down complex content into simpler concepts.
- Instead of building to create a set of results, which they often do in their other classes, the EasT engineers felt that teaching this course helped them understand that there can be many solutions to one problem. Students were “inspired” by the multiple and varied designs of the children in the Family Science class; it reminded them that there is rarely just one right answer to a problem.
- Seeing the children’s excitement and fascination with building and designing reminded some of the EasT students why they became engineers in the first place. It reminded them of the fundamental enjoyment of creating things and taking them apart. Being reminded of these base emotions was inspiring and motivating for the USC engineers.
Year 1 Findings
Most of the undergraduates did an excellent job working with the families. Here are a set of specific skills and knowledge that they said they acquired as a result of participating in the BAS project:
- Learned how to develop engineering lesson plans.
- Developed better presentation skills.
- Acquired better time management skills by learning how to prioritize their work.
- Developed better communication skills in sharing complex scientific content.
- Learned about leadership (i.e., how to be assertive, how to make decisions).
- Deepened their understanding of the scientific concepts they were teaching about as they try to apply them in the real world.
- Realized that they can be both teachers and engineers.
The parents who participated in the BAS project indicated that they benefited in the first year of the project through the process of learning and relearning, and building successful experiments. They demonstrated abilities to explore and be curious about science experiments and engineering, and thus, gained from the BAS project in the following ways:
- Learned about scientific concepts, including energy, density, gravity, friction, inertia, and aerodynamics.
- Learned to build science experiments in fun and engaging ways.
- Enjoyed designing, testing, and redesigning their models.
- Enjoyed spending time as a family to learn about science.
- Interacted with other diverse families.
- Realized that how easy it is to make science experiments using everyday objects and materials.
Most of the children were interested and engaged in learning science, enjoyed the learning process, liked to explore different ways to build their experiments, and were comfortable learning in a positive environment. They often remembered what they learned or did the previous week. As a result of their participation in the BAS project, they:
- Began to own their science and engineering learning through the design inquiry process.
- Were proud of receiving their certificate at the end of the semester.
- Kept asking, “When are they [the program staff] coming back?”
“It reminded me that science plays a big part in how we live our lives now and how we will live in the future.”
“It got me interested in science, I learned lots of things about space travel.”
“It allowed for quality time with my family.”
“I think participating in this program has affected me positively by helping my student know more. This science program is very helpful.”
“This program has affected him in a way where it has help him gain more scientific knowledge.”
“They enjoyed coming and engaging in the different activities. It was very educational.”
“They just couldn’t wait to come to this science family class.”
“This program exposed him to fields in engineering using hands- on activities.”