Rebecca Citrin ’14 (Springfield, N.J.) loves to see kids get excited about science and technology. She has put countless hours into two projects to help generate that enthusiasm.
Citrin, a civil engineering major, is developing the curriculum for an interactive museum-based game that will help students ages 9-12 learn about sustainability concepts and environmental engineering practices. She is working on the project through Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars undergraduate research program under the guidance of Art Kney, associate professor and head of civil and environmental engineering.
The game interface is currently under development through a collaboration with Jonathan Rowe ’06, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in computer science at North Carolina State University, and Kristen Tull ’06 of ERM sustainability consulting firm.
Eventually, the game will be used by students in a museum setting, where they will investigate concepts related to energy, food, and water, and will examine how these ideas can be engineered to help improve the health of the planet. Using an interactive tabletop surface, students will work collaboratively to solve sustainability puzzles of varying difficulty.
Citrin also developed assessment methods to ensure that the game is both effective and efficient in helping students understand what can be done to improve the environment. These methods will eventually be broadened to establish a standard for assessing informal engineering education practices for K–12 students.
“The results are expected to motivate a rise in informal engineering education practices for students by demonstrating the importance of early exposure to these disciplines,” Citrin says.
Citrin also organized the Lafayette College STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Camp over the summer. Along with civil engineering major Emily Crossette ’15 (Glenside, Pa.), she planned the event on behalf of Lafayette’s Society of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (SEES).
During the three-day summer camp, SEES hosted more than 50 first-sixth graders from throughout the Lehigh Valley. Campers were exposed to the various STEM fields through water-themed, interactive, hands-on activities led by Lafayette students and faculty. Citrin and civil engineering major Laura Spadaccini ’14 (Oradell, N.J.) also organized a similar event, the Engineering Brain Bowl, in summer 2011.
Working on these projects has helped Citrin focus her career path.
“I have developed my interest in studying informal engineering education practices for students. I hope to further explore this interest during my remaining time at Lafayette and investigate possible graduate school opportunities for the development of programs and assessment strategies in this growing field,” she says.