RIT engineering team designs online math and science activities for K-12 community

June 9, 2014

What teacher has not heard students challenge, "Why do I need math? Why am I learning this? I'm never going to use it."

To help teachers answer these questions, an engineering team from Rochester Institute of Technology developed the REMS Program—Relevant Education in Math and Science—a series of online STEM activities that can provide a way to associate math and science with solving engineering problems.

Designed for elementary, middle and , the program is built around three real-world scenarios: preserving competitive manufacturing, developing and delivering efficient and distributing products and services across the world. The online activities consist of overview videos, teacher lesson plans, student worksheets and several process simulations. The team is finalizing testing and the full set of activities can be reviewed online.

"We wanted to pick activities that would be fun and engaging for the kids. Each one is then adapted for different grade levels, and each of the lesson plans is adapted to serve the needs of those , asking different questions and getting different outcomes based on their knowledge," said Jacquie Mozrall, principal investigator for the project.

One of the activities for example, a skateboard assembly, uses simple math to demonstrate "cycle time"—the time it takes to assemble a product with individual team members at different workstations providing parts. Timing the activity and adjusting tasks allows students to use concepts such as calculating averages, modeling and using percentages, said Tina Bonfiglio, REMS K-12 educator, consultant and outreach liaison.

"There are lots of efforts out there to introduce students to 'what is engineering?' One of our goals is making the linkage between what the students are doing in middle school and high school math and science classes to how you have to actually use these skills to solve engineering problems," she said.

Other activities include modules on ergonomic design, meal picking and assembly, and household container recycling.

In 2010, the REMS team received a grant from the Toyota USA Foundation to develop the activities and to provide teachers with additional math and science resources. All of the modules have been evaluated by area students and educators early in the development process, and tested in the engineering college's Toyota Production Systems Laboratory, a multipurpose facility for teaching and research. The lab features a reconfigurable production line and distribution facility. It is widely used for undergraduate and graduate courses in the engineering college and is also used to support outreach activities conducted by the college's Women in Engineering Program.

Members of the REMS team are Mozrall; Bonfiglio; industrial and systems engineering faculty John Kaemmerlen, Matthew Marshall and Michael Kuhl; and Jodi Carville, director, Women in Engineering. Students from the college's industrial and systems engineering department also assisted in presenting and testing the online and onsite programming. Over the next month the team will complete testing on the final modules. The entire package will be available by the end of August.

"These have been designed with educators' input," Mozrall added. "There is a push to add more STEM activities in classrooms, and this effort provides a ready-made package that educators, community leaders and organizations can go online and use, wherever they happen to be."

Explore further: Researchers join forces to study high school dual-credit policy

Related Stories

Math modeling handbook now available

April 23, 2014

Math comes in handy for answering questions about a variety of topics, from calculating the cost-effectiveness of fuel sources and determining the best regions to build high-speed rail to predicting the spread of disease ...

Recommended for you

Plague likely a Stone Age arrival to central Europe

November 22, 2017

A team of researchers led by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History has sequenced the first six European genomes of the plague-causing bacterium Yersinia pestis dating from the Late Neolithic ...

How to cut your lawn for grasshoppers

November 22, 2017

Picture a grasshopper landing randomly on a lawn of fixed area. If it then jumps a certain distance in a random direction, what shape should the lawn be to maximise the chance that the grasshopper stays on the lawn after ...

Ancient barley took high road to China

November 21, 2017

First domesticated 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East, wheat and barley took vastly different routes to China, with barley switching from a winter to both a winter and summer crop during a thousand-year ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jun 09, 2014
This is a great start. These type of programs need to start early. Physics fundamentals and terminology should begin at least in first grade. Simple concepts like the difference between speed, velocity, and acceleration are misunderstood even at the college level by some.
not rated yet Jun 10, 2014
These type of programs need to start early. Physics fundamentals and terminology should begin at least in first grade.

not rated yet Jun 10, 2014
Teach the kids with arduino and raspberry pi will give similar or even better results.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.