Iris Tien, left, with Gwinnett County middle school teacher Kathylee McElroy and Jamila Cola after Tien and McElroy won awards for their collaboration on engineering lesson plans for McElroy's science classes. They've been working together for two years through a program made possible by the National Science Foundation Partnerships for Research, Innovation, and Multi-Scale Engineering. Cola is the director of that program. (Photo Courtesy: Iris Tien)
Georgia Tech’s K-12 outreach program has recognized Assistant Professor Iris Tien for her work helping some Atlanta-area middle school students learn about engineering.
Tien has been working with Northbrook Middle School teacher Kathylee McElroy to incorporate engineering concepts into McElroy’s science lessons. The collaboration won Tien and McElroy 2016 Paul A. Duke GIFT Action Plan Achievement awards earlier this month from Georgia Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC).
“It is important to expose students to engineering concepts early, including ideas about risk and hazards, and building civil engineering structures to withstand those hazards,” said Tien, whose work includes risk assessment and decision-making under uncertain conditions.
“For some of the concepts that are more abstract, such as risk and probability, it's important, I think, for students to be able to connect those ideas with tangible activities, and teaching these concepts through project-based lessons is a great way to do that.”
Tien and McElroy have been working together for two years. McElroy’s Northbrook Middle is part of Gwinnett County Public Schools, Georgia’s largest school system.
Tien said that offers significant opportunity to engage young students who may not have thought about careers in engineering before.
“I hope this sparks an interest in engineering for students, including from underrepresented groups in STEM, and inspires them to become our next generation of STEM scientists and engineers.”