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Development of Educational Artifacts on Wetlands by an Undergraduate, Interdisciplinary Design Team
A National Science Foundation DUE Scholarship program was used to assist in the development of an interdisciplinary team of 19 students spanning five different engineering (Biomedical, Chemical, Civil, Computer, and Electrical) disciplines, chemistry, and biology. The scholarship enables the teams to be comprised of the same students from their freshmen to senior year to facilitate learning of effective team building skills, as well as serve as a longitudinal study. This paper will discuss the approach and activities used over sophomore year.
The major concept used to tie the cohort together for the 2016-2017 academic year was wetlands. The students spent the first semester conducting a literature review pertaining wetlands and were able to take a field trip to nearby restored wetland, Panzner Wetland Wildlife Reserve. This afforded all students the opportunity to see a wetland first hand as well as to learn how to collect basic field data. During the spring 2017 semester the students used the knowledge from the field trip, and literature review to design and construct an educational artifact on wetlands for a junior level high school class. The students self-selected into three different artifacts: an informational video on wetlands, a board game and a diorama depicting a healthy and unhealthy wetland.
One of the objectives was to assess if these activities could enable the students' to develop into an effective interdisciplinary team and to address the potential lack of interest in core STEM classes; a common reason cited in literature for students leaving STEM fields. In addition to describing the students' key activities, we will describe issues faced by the students and faculty mentor in completing the project, as well as provide possible solutions for future team activities.