Tau Beta Pi

The Engineering Honor Society

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K-12 MindSET

Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society, is cognizant of the challenges currently faced by students in the USA, with respect to their preparation for the pursuit of careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Our high school graduates are lagging behind their peers in many developed countries in math and science performance. Success of a national initiative of this type requires the establishment and maintenance of a sustainable operation, which is embedded into the operations of the organization.

Contact or with program questions.

K12 volunteer demonstrating a bridge to high school students.


The Tau Beta Pi National K-12 Mathematics & Science Initiative is known as MindSET. This program applies a flexible design concept, where individual Chapters will develop and implement projects based on a framework establsihed by Tau Beta Pi. The four Core Components of this framework are teacher development, parent development, student development, and metrics for continuous program assessment and evaluation. MindSET focuses on using kinesthetics to teach math and science in the K-12 classroom, coupled with relevant engineering laboratory activities designed to reinforce the concepts taught in the classroom. MindSET is data-driven, and premised on the observation that fully equipped teachers, and active and involved parents are critical to the success and progress of our K-12 students. Conversely, research shows that where parents are apathetic and uninvolved, much of the hard work designed to improve student education will be unproductive.

The objective of MindSET is to partner with local school districts, to create and establish math and science intervention programs. The MindSET programs will assist students in making the connection between math and the world around them and pursuing careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. MindSET encourages the use of kinesthetic or hands-on delivery strategies in these activities. Such strategies have been shown to contribute to improved math and science performance of students in the K-12 system, particularly in assisting students to understand the connections between math, career opportunities, and their daily lives.

3 STEM disciplines are those in the career fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The four Core components of the MindSET program are: I. Teacher Development II. Parent development III. Student development IV. Assessment and Evaluation

The primary goal of MindSET is to increase the number of prepared students. MindSET primarily targets those students who are offtrack for completing Algebra 1 in the 8th grade, and hence calculus in the 12th grade, or who lack the motivation or encouragement to excel in math and science. These include women, minorities, and other populations that are underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Many students in these groups could potentially lead successful careers in STEM disciplines, but have not been adequately encouraged to develop an appreciation for, or interest in math and science. Without an encouraging and stimulating math and science environment, these students will be denied access to quite lucrative career fields. MindSET does not target those students who are already doing well in math and science, and can exercise the option of pursuing careers in STEM disciplines, but they are not excluded from the program.

MindSET's goal is to have the earliest exposure possible, starting in the elementary grades. Successful student progression in math and science, from the lowest to the highest grade levels, requires early intervention. Ultimately, it is best to have a program that can provide opportunities for students of all ages, but individual chapters may not have the resources to support a group that large. Therefore, Tau Beta Pi encourages chapters with limited resources to focus on grades 5 through 8. Students in this range have the ability to do quantitative math, but have flexible futures since they are still early in their academic careers. Tracking those students on to high school could be very productive. Alternatively, if a student is in 9th or 10th grade and still in pre-algebra, it will be difficult to assist that student to get caught-up, without some very intense interventions. The easiest age groups to recruit tend to be 3rd through 6th grades. The younger students present a unique challenge, since it can be very hard to show them basic engineering concepts that they can appreciate. However, these younger students are extremely inquisitive, and are ready to learn from activities which are a lot of fun. Many of these younger students are capable of gaining at least a cursory understanding of remarkably advanced concepts when given individual attention. Therefore, Tau Beta Pi encourages a high mentor-to-student ratio at lab sessions.

The primary incentives are meaningful involvement in local communities, being a part of a national initiative, and contributing to a solution of a major national problem. Chapters may also gain recognition in their community and academic institution. Additionally, Tau Beta Pi has and will continue to institute MindSET chapter awards and recognition programs.

Investigate possibilities of incorporating the four Core Components. If your current project has these Core Components, then it qualifies as a Tau Beta Pi approved project, and should be registered accordingly. If it does not, then you should seek to incorporate these Core Components in order to have your project approved as a Tau Beta Pi project.

The Executive Council (EC) has been pursuing funding for this program on an ongoing basis. These funds will be made available to chapters, especially in the form of startup funds and activity grants, but chapters are also encouraged to explore local funding possibilities such as sponsorships and fundraisers.

Once a Chapter indicates its readiness to start a program, the MindSET Coordinator will work through the National Management Committee (NMC) to provide startup resources, including program implementation guidelines and teacher training. Tau Beta Pi can also assist in defraying the cost of engineering lab modules. In addition, key personnel will be prepared to meet with you, and your target School District to discuss program objectives.

The management structure comprises the TBP Executive Council (EC), National Management Committee (NMC), and four Regional Management Committees (RMC), each with responsibility for four Districts. For greater effectiveness, Tau Beta Pi also recommends establishing District Management Committees (DMC) within each region, and a Chapter Implementation Team (CIT) in each Chapter. The DMC and CIT will manage development and implementation activities at the local level.

The K-12 National Management Committee (NMC) is comprised of 9 members: One member of the Executive Council (EC); 4 District Directors (DD); and 4 Alumni Members (AM). NMC members work with Regional Management Committees (RMCs), District Management Committees (DMCs) and Chapters in formulating and implementing projects; reviewing projects; tracking progress and results; and identifying and cultivating national program partners.

The K-12 Regional Management Committee (RMC) is comprised of 16 members: Eight District Directors (DDs); and eight Alumni Members (AM). RMC formulates regional operating plans, assists in identification of local business partners, and supports Districts and Chapters in project implementation.

The role of the MindSET District Management Committee (DMC) is to provide support at the local level for Chapters within their District. They will also assist Chapters in making contact with agencies, school districts, corporations, university administrators and faculty, and other potential partners.

The role of the K-12 Chapter Implementation Team is to provide leadership for the development and implementation of the Chapter program; explore opportunities for collaborating with other groups, or teams drawn from other student organizations; work with Engineering School and School Districts; define chapter project for implementation; challenge and involve Chapter members to become involved in project design; actively monitor student and school progress with respect to the metrics being used; seek financial sponsorship for local programs; and pursue partnerships with industry.

Chapter advisors, faculty, and staff in your College of Engineering are critically important in getting programs moving in a school district. Due to position or personal knowledge, they are usually best qualified to establish informal and formal contact with administrators, faculty, and staff in the K-12 system. Such contact is critical to the successful launching, and sustainability of your program.

To initiate a project in a school system you should first check with the engineering administrators and staff in the student services area to determine if there are any projects currently underway, in which your Chapter could provide leadership. Next, meet with the school district administrators (leadership provided by Advisers, engineering faculty and staff); discuss the proposed project and your Chapter's interest in working with students in the school system, particularly in the areas of math, science and engineering preparation. Once the school district administrators are onboard, they will assist you in arranging meetings with the school(s) of interest to you. It is important that you do background research on student performance in the school district and target schools, by reviewing the annual reports which are published online. You must work side- by-side with the school district, complementing their work through your efforts. Any other approach will court disaster. You should advocate a win-win situation for all concerned.

Engineering lab sessions complement the classroom instruction being done by the teacher on a regular basis. Each lab session should be long enough to complete a meaningful module, which is typically two to three hours. Modules begin by teaching students a mathematical concept or set of concepts. This should be followed up with a kinesthetic activity that excites the students and directly applies the concept(s) they just learned. Alternatively, the students may be presented with a kinesthetic activity that teaches them the concepts continuously throughout the session, rather than them learning it in a lecture format at the beginning. Both methods are acceptable. Students learn from each other, and should be given every opportunity to do so in these sessions. In the lab sessions students must be encouraged to work in teams of 4 or 5; larger teams should be avoided. Students should be separated into groups based on age or ability. Each group should be given a lecture and an activity that caters to their ability level. The kinesthetic activity should be presented with a large number of volunteers acting as mentors. Ideally, you want to have one mentor per student, although that is not usually attainable. However, a large number of mentors allows each student to receive individual attention, and students of all ages learn astonishingly fast when given that kind of support. Parents sometimes like to sit in and watch. This is perfectly okay, and should not make you nervous. In fact, many parents find that they learn as much as their kids do at any given session.

We have found three hours is an effective session length. Often, the best time to do a session is on a Saturday from 9:00am - 12:00pm. Saturday sessions ensure the lab does not interfere with any after-school activities. The time may seem a little early, but keeping the students there until after noon may make it necessary to provide snacks or lunch, which is outside the budget of most programs. End your sessions by providing opportunities for participants to give feedback on the day's activity, which will assist you in module design. It is acceptable to hold sessions during school or after school as well. Please work with your partner school to determine the best time. Three to six sessions a semester is a good long-term goal for your program. Start very slowly and build up.

A module is a completely self-contained MindSET activity that is designed to illustrate application of math and science concepts in engineering product development. The module should be appropriate for the grade levels being taught. A module should include a detailed materials list, some kind of theoretical component, and instructions for a kinesthetic component. If there are worksheets for the students to complete, the worksheets and an answer key should be included. A digital version of the module should be stored as one single document or ZIP file that includes everything but the actual physical materials, which a chapter should be able to find easily after referring to the detailed materials list. A module should illustrate concepts at the different grade levels, and should clearly indicate its target age group. A simple way to create a module is to start with an important mathematical concept or set of concepts. From there, create a kinesthetic activity that quantitatively applies those concepts to problems related to engineering. Lectures or worksheets may be devised as necessary to assist in communicating the core concepts of the module. A good approach is to partner with math and science teachers in your target schools in the development of your modules. Essentially, your modules should incorporate the teaching and learning objectives of the curriculum.

No. First, there are modules available for download on this site. Second, since a large amount of work can go into developing any single module and new modules must be approved by the NMC. We advise using existing modules, which can be tailored to your specific needs. You can also partner with or recruit other organizations to design modules with you.

Absolutely not. Many low-performing students are those whose families are facing financial hardship, or whose parents are not enthusiastic enough about math and science to pay for their children to attend an extracurricular activity. Also, the cooperation of school districts is vital for your survival and your success. Districts are much more willing to believe that your main interest is benefiting the students if you are free of charge. Many schools will also ask if you charge for your sessions before they will agree to hand out fliers.