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“High Schools Improving Lives with Engineering Projects in Community Service-Learning” . Design. Grow. Prepare. Serve. Explore. Succeed. Pamela Dexter EPICS High School Program Coordinator Purdue University. Characteristics of Service-Learning.

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“High Schools Improving Lives with Engineering Projects in Community Service-Learning”







Pamela DexterEPICS High School Program CoordinatorPurdue University

characteristics of service learning
Characteristics of Service-Learning
  • Service– students participate in service for the underserved in a community
  • Academically-based – reinforces or connects with the subject material of the academic course
  • Reciprocity – Mutual needs, mutual learning
  • Reflection (Analysis, metacognition) – Students reflect (analyze) on their experience and learning
the epics consortium
The EPICS Consortium
  • EPICS programs at 20 universities
  • 35 High schools in five states
    • California, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York
current epics high schools
Current EPICS High Schools

In New York:

Frederick Douglass Academy

A Phillip Randolph

Columbia Secondary School

Syracuse City Schools (Henninger)

Shoreham-Wading River HS

In Massachusetts:

Leicester HS

Agawam HS

Prospect Hill Academy

In California:

High Tech High

Pacific Ridge

Andrew P. Hill HS

Yerba Buena HS

Pleasant Grove HS

In Indiana:

McCutcheon HS

Jefferson HS

IPS Career & Tech Center

Park Tudor

Columbus C4 Program

Bedford North Lawrence HS

Northrop HS

Indiana Academy

Arsenal Tech

TC Howe School

George Washington Comm. School

eSchool Academy

Arlington HS

Frankfort HS

In Michigan:

University High School

Caseville HS

Owendale-Gagetown HS

Harbor Beach HS

North Huron Schools

Laker HS

Ubly Community Schools

Bad Axe Schools

motivation connecting engineering with people and local communities
Motivation:Connecting engineering with people and local communities
  • While interest in engineering is declining, civic engagement among teenagers is high
  • 83% of high school seniors entering college participated in community service or service-learning
    • Female and minority students more inclined to continue service
    • Many honors diplomas require service
  • Service-learning in high schools rarely connected with engineering/science/math
  • EPICS provides an opportunity to tap into this wave of volunteerism
motivation the time is now for epics high
Motivation:The Time is Now for EPICS High
  • EPICS received a $1.5 million from CNCS (Learn & Serve America) to start EPICS High along with Industry Support
  • Collaboration with EPICS, Engineering Education/Inspire, and Purdue’s College of Education
  • Utilizing EPICS Universities to help identify and support high schools
  • Devloping key partnerships with Service-Learning State Leaders Across the Country, and Professional Engineering Organizations; SWE, NSBE, SHPE, etc.
impact changing the equation
Impact:Changing the Equation
  • 35 Schools Participating
  • 1760 + Student Participants
  • 41% Female Participants
  • 38% Underrepresented Participants
  • Over 50% in Free & Reduced Lunch Programs
  • Over 165,000 people positively affected by EPICS High projects!

Included in the mission of the EPICS High program is outreach to underrepresented populations. Reports from schools in April 2009 show the following impact:

impact varied program models
Impact:VariedProgram Models

EPICS High is creating a variety of models to replicate throughout the nation. Of the 34 existing schools, current models are:

  • 10 Rural Schools
  • 8 Suburban Schools
  • 17 Urban Schools
  • 31 In-school Programs
  • 4 After-schools Programs
epics projects fall into 4 broad areas of interest
EPICS Projects Fall Into 4 Broad Areas of Interest:
  • Human Services
    • Examples: Habitat for Humanity, YMCA, Local Food Banks
  • Access & Abilities
    • Examples: Special Needs Students in Schools, Local Organizations for Handicap or Disabled Residents
  • Environmental
    • Examples: State Environmental Depts., Recycling groups
  • Education & Outreach
    • Examples: Feeder Elem. Or Middle Schools, Local Children’s Museums
project example mccutcheon high school tippecanoe county indiana
Project Example:McCutcheon High SchoolTippecanoe County, Indiana

Guidance Department ESL Assistant Software

  • Computers give welcome message and common task menu for Hispanic speakers entering McCutcheon
  • Main menu allows parent/student to select from options – enrollment, withdrawal, questions commonly asked
  • Completed computerized

forms then revert to

English for

counselors/school use

project example high tech high san diego california
Project Example:High Tech High San Diego, California
  • 114 Seniors participating in semester long program

List of Project Underway:

  • Recyclable materials storage unit
  • Modular back drop system
  • Custom stage stairs for animals
  • Light writer pendulum
  • Ball return system for a gravity well
  • Mobil art cart
  • Fish pin cover system
  • Sign storage and transportation cart
  • Custom sports equipment rack
  • Climbing tree structure

Raptor Cage

  • 15 projects have already been delivered by
  • High Tech High affecting an estimated 1650 people

Motorized Copy Holder

project example fredrick douglass academy harlem new york
Project Example:Fredrick Douglass AcademyHarlem, New York

Projects Underway in 3 Areas


Aquaponics Tank in Harlem Senior Center

Environmental Engineering:

Design water quality sampling station for the East River


High school students are using their robotics program to work with middle and elementary age students in a mentoring program

In Addition: Developing a system for students to partner with elementary school teachers and create projects to help them teach science

The Frederick Douglass Academy

project example pacific ridge school carlsbad california
Project Example:Pacific Ridge School Carlsbad, California

Pacific Ridge School Campus Stewardship Project

  • Recycling auditing/setup/maintenance
  • Worm bin setup/maintenance (food composting)
  • Designed and constructed athletic equipment storage box, garden equipment storage shed, and field-side benches
  • Designed and planted PRS garden (using worm compost)

Elementary School Outreach Project

  • Formed partnership with local elementary school
  • Performed recycling/trash audit
  • Educating students on basics of recycling
  • Implementing school-wide recycling plan

Project Green

  • Partner with regional restaurant chain for the purpose of helping them ‘go green’
  • Analyzing customer survey data
project example harbor beach hs michigan
Project Example:Harbor Beach HS Michigan
  • Computerized Food Pantry Inventory Project

Students are working with all food pantries in county to sep up a computerized inventory system for tracking food items and customer information

project example agawam hs massachussetts
Project Example:Agawam HS Massachussetts

Leo Club

  • Storm drain marking
  • Specialized dog bowls for non-profit


  • Make Lions Club Eye Mobile handicap


  • Design of school IDs

Science Classes

  • Storm drain marking
  • Design and construction of storm

drain stencils

  • Rapid stream bioassessment
  • Design of rain gardens
  • Develop water conservation

educational materials

  • Salmon rearing and release project
epics high curriculum
EPICS High Curriculum
  • Still in draft format
  • Designed for flexibility
  • Great deal of input from EPICS High teachers
  • Consists of the following 5 modules that address 1 central topic per week:
  • Design
  • Service Learning
  • Cultural Context and Ethics
  • Teamwork
  • Communication

Listed in the curriculum are 3 sections with each module that state learning objectives, national academic standards, and 45 lesson plans

implementing epics high for schools
Implementing EPICS High…..For Schools

Easy Steps for getting started :

  • Teachers and/or administrators attend EPICS High training
  • Complete an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) on how you plan to implement and support your program
  • Identify an initial community partner
  • Identify need expertise in your school or community to lead or mentor
  • Recruit students
  • Go to work!
what will i get if i become an epics high site
What will I get if I become an EPICS High site?
  • Professional Development Opportunities
  • Support and Resources from EPICS Headquarters
  • Exposure to Other EPICS High Sites and Teachers
  • Access to University and Corporate Mentors for Needed Expertise and Resources
  • EPICS High Curriculum
  • Funding Leads That Arise Through Grants or Corporations
  • Access to partnering Professional Societies and their members
  • To Be a Reconginzied Leader in Education
the high school epics model evaluation and assessment
The High School EPICS Model:Evaluation and Assessment

Assessment of the EPICS High program currently consists of:

    • Site Visits
    • Bi-Annual Progress Reports
    • Student Surveys – Pre, Post and Senior
    • Survey by Community Partners
    • More Detailed Research Component Coming Soon!
  • Evaluation of the summer teacher trainings by participants
epics high year 1 data
EPICS High Year 1 Data
  • - 13 out of 15 schools participated in the surveying
  • - 500 EPICS students particpating in the15 schools
  • 40% student response to survey

EPICS Effect on Student Motivation By Population

student attitudes after experiencing epics
Student Attitudes After Experiencing EPICS….

Student Attitudes In Pre-survey When Entering Into An EPICS Program…..

summer trainings for high school teachers and administrators
Summer Trainings: for High School Teachers and Administrators

EPICS High held its 3rd summer training session in 2009. 80 individuals attended. In 2010, training will be held the week of July 13th at Purdue University. Training will include both existing and new schools with sessions on the following topics:

  • Partnerships
  • Project Management
  • Teaming
  • Assessment
  • Engineering Content
  • Design
  • Social Context and Culture
  • The EPICS Model & Service-Learning

Training is designed to give teachers and administrators the tools and resources needed to implement and maintain EPICS High programs

“I knew very little prior to this training and now feel confident to start EPICS at my school.”

2007 Teacher Training Participant

epics high potential for impact
EPICS High:Potential for Impact

EPICS has the potential to play a role in addressing many current issues including:

  • Declining interest in Engineering/Computing
  • Continued underrepresentation of women and minorities
  • Drop out rates
  • Improving STEM education
  • Global competitiveness
  • Building capacity in communities and schools
  • Compelling needs of underserved populations
epics high moving forward
EPICS High:Moving Forward

EPICS High continues to bring together the resources for a large-scale national roll-out. Due to the success and overwhelming interest in the program, long-term plans have been accelerated.

Plans for growth include:

  • Securing funding to set up regional training centers
  • Established partnerships with professional societies such as; NSBE, SWE, SHPE, etc. with similar goals and missions
  • Engaging state Service-Learning representatives
  • Training of regional trainers
  • Establishing Teacher Fellows program

1. Focus on a community service or service learning activity your school is engaged in.

2. In your small groups, discuss what class this activity could be incorporated into. How could the activity grow into something that is more of an academic experience?

3. Share ideas with larger group





  • The Martinson Family Foundation