Using the engineering design process as the structure for project-based learning: An informal STEM activity on bridge-building

Luciana R Barroso, Sandra B Nite, J. R. Morgan, Ali Bicer, Robert M Capraro, Mary M Capraro

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The challenges posed by STEM education are highly complex and require the efforts of both formal and informal educational approaches. Informal settings allow for greater flexibility for integrating across multiple STEM fields as well as allowing greater freedom for students to explore potential topics and skills within STEM. As such, informal STEM learning experiences not only develop students' interest in STEM but also influence their identity as STEM learners. In this paper we present and discusses a bridge design and construction project-based learning (PBL) activity that was conducted as part of a two-week STEM camp run by Aggie STEM at Texas A&M University. The PBL was designed around a real-world scenario that the students could tackle in a smaller scale as an initial prototype solution. An engineering design process was utilized throughout the activity and students had multiple objectives to meet. As the problem had no single solution, students could safely be creative in their approaches and final solutions, as they were not focused on finding the one right answer. Learning outcomes of the project were: 1. the reality of problems having multiple acceptable solutions; 2. the realization that the existence of multiple acceptable solutions does not mean that all solutions are acceptable; and 3. that there is room for creativity in meeting the design specifications with the allowed resources.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationISEC 2016 - Proceedings of the 6th IEEE Integrated STEM education Conference
Place of PublicationUnited States
PublisherIEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)978146739774
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2016
EventIEEE Integrated STEM Education Conference: 2016 ISEC - Princeton University, Princeton, United States
Duration: 05 Mar 201605 Mar 2016


ConferenceIEEE Integrated STEM Education Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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