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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Engineering a Healthier Watershed: Middle School Students Use Engineering Design to Lessen the Impact of Their Campus' Impervious Surfaces on Their Local Watershed
by Gardner, Elizabeth Claire, M.S.T., Portland State University, 2015, 101; 1606166
Abstract (Summary)

It is important that students understand not only how their local watershed functions, but also how it is being impacted by impervious surfaces. Additionally, students need experience exploring the scientific and engineering practices that are necessary for a strong STEM background. With this knowledge students can be empowered to tackle this real and local problem using engineering design, a powerful practice gaining momentum and clarity through its prominence in the recent Framework for K-12 Science Education. Twenty classes of suburban sixth-graders participated in a new five-week Watershed Engineering Design Unit taught by their regular science teachers. Students engaged in scientific inquiry to learn about the structure, function, and health of their local watersheds, focusing on the effects of impervious surfaces. In small groups, students used the engineering design process to propose solutions to lessen the impact of runoff from their school campuses. The goal of this evaluation was to determine the effectiveness of the curriculum in terms of student gains in understanding of (1) watershed function, (2) the impact of impervious surfaces, and (3) the engineering design process. To determine the impact of this curriculum on their learning, students took multiple-choice pre- and post-assessments made up of items covering the three categories above. This data was analyzed for statistical significance using a lower-tailed paired sample t-test. All three objectives showed statistically significant learning gains and the results were used to recommend improvements to the curriculum and the assessment instrument for future iterations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Becker, William
Commitee: Potter, Melissa, Wagner, Stephanie
School: Portland State University
Department: General Science
School Location: United States -- Oregon
Source: MAI 55/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Environmental education, Science education
Keywords: Curriculum, Engineering design education, Middle school, Watershed education
Publication Number: 1606166
ISBN: 978-1-339-37125-2
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