The Arizona Science Lab (ASL): Fieldtrip based STEM outreach with a full engineering design, build and test cycle

Tom Innes, Amy Johnson, Kristen L. Bishop, Justin Harvey, Martin Reisslein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Motivated by the declining interest of K-12 students in STEM courses and careers, the IEEE Phoenix chapter has founded the Arizona Science Lab (ASL) in Tempe, Arizona, the United States of America. The ASL conducts free hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workshops, e.g. on solar cars, with middle school students. The students visit the ASL for a full day during their fieldtrip day. The workshops provide students with a brief introduction to the science and engineering principles underlying the workshop topic, such as electric circuits and solar cells for the solar car workshop. Teams of two students then conduct a full design, build and test cycle that includes re-engineering and re-testing of their gadget, e.g. solar car. Teams, then, compete with their gadgets, e.g. solar cars, and take them home. Comparison of pre- and post-workshop survey ratings indicate that the workshops significantly improve the student perceptions of engineers as problem solvers and of engineers having a positive impact on the world. Also, the student self-perception of familiarity with engineering as well as general STEM interest and self-efficacy were significantly increased.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-232
Number of pages8
JournalGlobal Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012


  • Build and test cycle
  • Design
  • Middle school students
  • STEM workshops
  • Solar cars
  • Student attitudes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Education


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