Inspiring Future Engineers: GFMEDC/NDSU Pilot Project Pairs K-12 Students With NDSU Engineering Students

“We’re going to play a really fun game today.”

Mackayla Headlee, a senior in electrical engineering at NDSU has spent the last couple months with nine second graders at Ed Clapp Elementary in Fargo. Headlee works with the students on projects that help advance classroom lessons. Headlee is one of 126mediumtwo NDSU students from the College of Engineering who spend 30 minutes twice a week with small groups of students. Headlee and her counterpart help students learn to apply their current math content to examples representing real life situations.

The students use a process Headlee calls think, pair and share. The second graders think about the problem, pair up with a partner to talk about solutions and then share with the group. The process helps them learn to work together and see different ways to solve a problem.

“These are the same problem solving skills I use in college,” said Headlee.

The pilot program was started in 2015-2016 thanks to a collaboration among the GFMEDC, NDSU and Fargo Public Schools. Two engineering students are spending ten weeks at Ed Clapp teaching a total of 20 students who range from level one to five in terms of math competency. The GFMEDC is providing the college students’ stipends.

Along with inspiring the students to learn different ways to tackle math concepts (and hopefully to love math), the program aims to create pathways to careers like engineering. The NDSU students act as role models, sharing their love of math with the kids and planting the seed in their minds that they too can pursue STEM fields. This program has the potential to reach more students getting them excited about learning math from role models who use it in their everyday lives

115medium“I loved math and a big reason was because I saw how math could be applied to the real world,” said Headlee. With her grandfather and father as engineering role models, engineering was a natural choice for her.

The two engineering students also spent time at Fargo North helping in a mechanical engineering class.