students working with with soldering irons

Improving Students’ STEM-Identity Through Design and Tinkering


A team of students led by Biomedical Engineering Professor Megan Madonna and the Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies will develop methods to explore how middle and high school students become excited about engineering and STEM. Our team will evaluate and quantify the initiation and progression of engineering and STEM-identity through tinkering and design experiences. Students will quantify middle and high schooler’s perceptions of themselves as engineers and problem solvers (self-efficacy) and their ability to persevere toward a solution over the course of an engineering outreach program, Ignite ( By doing this, students will pinpoint the most impactful moments during engineering programs for further analysis. This work provides a needed basis for research groups interested in optimizing middle and high
school engineering experiences to best engage and retain students in STEM through high school and beyond. This project builds off the work of Duke Biomedical Engineering’s Ignite program and Bass Connections Course
through-human-centered-design-2023-2024) which has partnered with the Museum of Life and Science in Durham since 2020 to provide local students access to engineering design experiences so that they may see themselves as problem solvers capable of working on projects related to their community.

Project Lead: Megan Madonna

Project Manager: Akalpit Dawkhar



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