First-hand Experience with Engineering Design and Career Interest in Engineering: An Informal STEM Education Case Study
Author/s: Mehmet C. Ayar
Year: 2015 Vol: 15 Number: 6
The purpose of this study is to present students’ experiences, interest in engineering, and personal narratives while participating in a robotics summer camp in a metropolitan city in Turkey. In this study, I used qualitative data collection methods such as interviews, field notes, and observations. I used the four principles of Engle and Conant as a framework for analyzing their interactions and tasks as well as to make sense of their mutual interactions, tasks, and social structure in the robotics summer camp. The study findings indicated that the robotics summer camp was different from regular science classrooms in terms of goals, practical work, and social structure. The robotics summer camp provided students with the opportunity to engage in robotics activities and have personal interactions with engineering researchers about engineering and their future career plans. The robot design experience and close relationships with engineering professionals at the camp were sources that nurtured and maintained student interest in engineering. I concluded that the robotics summer camp was a venue for students to gain first-hand experiences, develop and sustain interest in engineering, and comprehend the nature of engineering in general. This in turn helped students to determine their career choice and sustain a lifelong interest in engineering.