Macro Analog to MEMS: A Program to Teach 8th and 9th Grade Students Science and Engineering

  • Catherine F.M. Clewett
  • Hy D Tran


Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems (MEMS) was used as a vehicle to teach engineering and physical sciences concepts to middle-school students. Drawing on a University research program in MEMS as a resource, the program taught students the design process from solid modeling through manufacturing, and it developed a macro-scale analog to silicon micromachining that could inexpensively produce hand-held size planar layered structures to illustrate the kinematics and geometry of MEMS devices. This analog simulated the manufacturing process for MEMS without the need of a clean room or its highly volatile chemicals; it used soap and wax, materials found in local hobby stores. The students also learned to use the program SolidWorks to create solid models of simple machines. They translated their designs into kinematic models using a fused deposition of material rapid prototyping machine (Stratasys FDM1650). The project also consisted of an assessment portion to see its effect on the students. At the beginning and end of the program, the twenty-three students filled out a questionnaire based on the Test of Science Related Attitudes (TOSRA). The test showed a significant improvement in attitude in two of its seven scales ? Adoption of Scientific Attitudes and Attitude Towards Scientific Inquiry. An additional method of assessment, the students? comments in their personal portfolio, showed an overall increase in interest from the students. This program can be used as a model for other schools.