This paper is intended for engineering educators, high school curriculum designers, and high school teachers interested in integrating authentic, project-based learning experiences into their classes. These types of projects may appear complex, but have many advantages. We characterize the successful implementation of one such project, the Virtual Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) Laboratory Project, in five high schools. Central to the project is a virtual laboratory that simulates a manufacturing process in the integrated circuits industry. It provides opportunities for students to develop and refine solutions to an authentic engineering task through integration of science knowledge, experimentation, analysis, reflection, and iteration. The flexibility in instructional design and the robust, no-cost access enables versatility. The authenticity of the project is shown both to motivate students and develop their epistemological beliefs. The project is also shown to promote student cognition through knowledge integration, engineering design strategies, and evaluation and reflection. In addition, the project allows for teacher assessment of students’ progress towards this type of cognition and enables them to identify opportunities to modify their instructional design to promote learning. Finally, we discuss potential barriers to adoption.
Use of an Authentic, Industrially Situated Virtual Laboratory Project to Address Engineering Design and Scientific Inquiry in High Schools
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