Engaging Students in STEM Careers with Project based Learning - MarineTech Project

A.K. Verma and S.E. McKinney (USA)


Project Based Learning; Workforce Development; STEMEducation; Shipbuilding Industry


Low enrollment and high attrition rates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) based degree programs have created a workforce problem in industries like shipbuilding and repair which are important for national security. Part of this problem can be attributed pedagogical issues like lack of engaging hands-on activities utilized for science and math education in middle and high schools. Lack of student interest in technical careers can also be attributed to lack of an integrated approach in teaching math, science and technical education. To engage student’s interest in the technical career path, it is important that students establish a link between the theoretical knowledge and its application to solve real life problems early in their learning experience. Project based activities have a proven record as instructional tool. Effectiveness of such activities as a pedagogical tool has been supported by research in the acquisition and retention of knowledge. The MarineTech Project funded by the National Science Foundation and the Shipbuilding and Repair Career Day Events (SBRCD) project funded by the National Shipbuilding Research Program have attempted to address the workforce issue for marine industry by developing project based learning kits and associated instructional modules to engage students in STEM tracks and increase awareness about shipbuilding and repair careers. Four marine kits and four instructional modules were developed under these two grants to encourage creative thinking and keep students engaged in shipbuilding and repair processes. The teacher training component of these projects has provided training in using and implementing these modules. The paper presents the motivation behind developing these project based learning (PBL) modules, issues related to implementation and results from student and teacher workshops

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