Guidebook for Railway-themed K-12 STEM Outreach Activities

UIUC Project Information

NuRail Project IDNURail2014-UIUC-E09
Project TitleGuidebook for Railway-themed K-12 STEM Outreach Activities
UniversityUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Principal InvestigatorTyler Dick
PI Contact
Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization)$0 NURail; $45,000 cost match
Total Project Cost$90,000
Agency ID or Contract NumberDTRT13-G-UTC52 (Grant 2)
Start Date2019-08-15
End Date2020-09-15
Brief Description of Research ProjectDemand for graduates with rail transportation expertise remains strong in North America, particularly in engineering and technical fields. Railway courses are now offered at two dozen universities in the United States, and, for the first time in decades, several universities offer specific degrees in railway engineering. Despite this progress, challenges remain, such as raising student awareness of rail industry career paths. Since most railway engineering courses are senior-level electives, many students are already committed to other engineering disciplines before they are exposed to railway concepts. To raise student interest in rail courses and satisfy industry demands for internships, students must be introduced to railway concepts before they decide on the direction of their studies. One approach to directing more rail-aware students into engineering programs is rail-themed outreach to K-12 students. Railways still hold a fascination for many young people as complex, multidisciplinary systems and numerous interesting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts can be demonstrated through the lens of railway transportation. Interactive rail-themed classroom activities can illustrate STEM topics while highlighting rail career opportunities and reinforcing railway transportation. The objective of this project is to develop a guidebook that describes rail-themed K-12 STEM outreach activities created by various NURail partners. For each activity, the guidebook will describe the required materials, provide a script for presenting and/or executing the activity, and summarize key learning points related to railway transportation and broader concepts in the STEM fields. The guidebook will be made available as a PDF download through the NURail website and those of partner institutions for use by educators and individuals interested in incorporating rail-focused STEM activities into their classroom or community outreach programs.
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