Invention & Design:
Students to Inventors: Eval


Of the 31 participants, 25 felt that the course exceeded their expectations in almost every area, one believed that the course did not meet her expectations ("I expected to have more instructional time and guidance"), and one did not express an opinion. Representative quotes from students who felt the course met or exceeded their expectations include:

I have gained a greater knowledge and understanding of the process of invention.

This sure met my expectations because we strained to work hard and work together toward one goal.

Yes, [the course] was more than I had expected. It was fun and challenging.

[The course] went beyond my expectations. I did not think I would get nearly this much out of three weeks. I learned more in these three weeks then I learned all year in science class.

The course passed my expectations. It was inspiring -- I plan on doing more in this field.

I found [the course] to be challenging and very interesting. The hands-on learning gave you a personal experience with inventing and learning in general.

I enjoyed this very much. [It was] challenging, which means more exciting. Thanks for doing this. It's a lot better than filing papers like they make me do when I'm finished or bored at my school.

Students' positive responses were echoed by their performance. An outside evaluator with expertise in gifted education made the following comment after seeing groups present their telephone projects: "(The groups) clearly reflected an understanding of what they had done, its meaning, its reasons--why things work and don't, where their theory falls short of being realized and the steps necessary to span the gap--and the relationship of whole and part. It was clear they have read and heard much complex information which they can translate into practice and that they have a sense of where their inventions are relative to Bell's early work."

Michael Brittingham, the high-school physics teacher who ran the course on a day-to-day basis concluded that, "As a pilot for 9th-11th grade gifted students, the course was a great success."

Duane Bowker of Bell labs spent a day with the students and remarked that he was "surprised how well some of the experiences the students related mapped onto the way things often go in an existing engineering organization like AT&T Bell Laboratories... The students showed a great deal of insight into the process and team issues their groups ran into. You and I appear to be in agreement that exposing engineering students to these process and teamwork issues, and giving them opportunities to develop those skills that make the effective team participants, can really enhance their long-term career success."

One student wrote us about six months after the course and indicated that he is still working on the solar airplane. He is now focusing on a solar-powered launch system that will power the plane's battery. At the end of his (unsolicited) letter, he said, "I thoroughly enjoyed the class last summer. It was challenging, yet fun, and I got a lot out of it that has already been applied to school."