Work in Progress: Development and Evaluation of Self-Contained, Shippable Outreach Experiments for Online Implementation in K-12 Classrooms

Joseph Churchill Tapia, Danielle Nicole Dutton, Ronald Justin Vogler, Evan Yang, Sarah A. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Due to COVID-19, more students are transitioning to online classrooms. This poses a problem for STEM educators as students are limited in their ability to learn about the scientific process or scientific thinking through hands-on experimentation. Additionally, outreach programs that are designed to increase interest and participation in STEM face a challenge of not being able to enter the physical classroom for activities. To address these needs, a program was developed to create self-contained experimental kits that could be shipped to students' homes. This allows students to gain the same outreach experience that they might have had in the classroom without leaving the safety of their home. Additionally, it removes the burden on parents of having to purchase outreach materials. The contents of the kits were designed with the following constraints: 1) experiments must be easy to complete with minimal instructions, 2) there must be a limited mess and 3) they must be easily and inexpensively shipped. With these constraints, four experiments were developed: analyzing the pH of household acids and bases using a red cabbage indicator (chemical engineering), building a popsicle-stick bridge (civil engineering), creating a drinking-straw prosthetic hand (biomedical engineering), and assembling an automatic LED night light (electrical engineering). The instructional guides to the kits include background information about the STEM topic, methods for completing the experiment, tables for data collection, and/or analysis questions about the data. To ensure the clarity of the instructions, recommendations were taken from a non-target audience to refine the materials. The kits were piloted on college-aged peers who have varying degrees of expertise in the subjects. Peers were asked to assess the clarity of the activity, provide feedback on the quality of the experiment, and complete questions for the pretest and posttest on the topic matter covered in the instructional guides. Results from this study will be used to refine the outreach kits prior to implementation with K-12 students. While originally designed to address the limitations in place due to COVID-19, this project can expand the outreach program to areas where in-person programs can be challenging. With considerate development, expansion to Appalachian regions can provide students with more exposure to STEM, while also allowing them to interact with engineering students from the University of Kentucky.

Original languageEnglish
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jul 26 2021
Event2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 29 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© American Society for Engineering Education, 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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