Impact of "algae grows the future" project on promoting engineering

Kauser Jahan, Stephanie Farrell, Cheryl Bodner, Gina Tang, Adam Cavallaro, Jeffrey Dobkowski, Ashley Ferrante, Zachery Miller, Erin Pepe, Samantha Price

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

Abstract

The Algae Grows the Future project uses algae-based experiments for promoting science and engineering careers for K-12 and first year college students. Algae is a photosynthetic microorganism that is ubiquitous and has been used by many civilizations for various uses. These uses range for aquaculture feed to food for humans. In recent years the use has been expanded for biofuels, cosmetics, nutrient removal from wastewater and much more. The algae based experiments present engineering fundamentals and scientific principles, and provide students/educators hands-on experience with engineering experiments and problem-solving. The experiments also include concepts from both the humanities and social sciences, such as ethics, gender and racial biases. A subset of the modules described in this paper were tested with first-year students in engineering through the use of surveys and participation in a focus group. From the conducted surveys, it was determined that the first year engineering students had statistically significant increases in self-regulated learning strategies as well as increases in perceived confidence of learning after completion of the selected modules. These conclusions support the idea that algae-based learning promotes engineering education for students. Small focus groups of first year college students were also used to gauge student experiences from the project. The focus group found that the students were able to make better connections to their selected career path, and students were found to have a greater ability to persevere when presented with difficult engineering problems. While the study was only completed on a relatively small group size, the successful results from this group show that algae-based learning is a valuable project worth pursuing further. The overall goals for this project are to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, as well as educate students on sustainability and the future use of renewable resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019
Event126th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Charged Up for the Next 125 Years, ASEE 2019 - Tampa, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2019Jun 19 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)

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