1. Kristen Morris
  2. Research Assistant/Doctoral Candidate, Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design
  4. Cornell University
  1. Charlotte Coffman
  2. Senior Extension Associate, Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design
  4. Cornell University
  1. Dr. Denise Green
  2. Assistant Professor, Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design
  4. Cornell University
  1. Fran Kozen
  2. Extension Associate, Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design
  4. Cornell University
  1. Dr. Lucy Dunne
  2. http://dha.design.umn.edu/faculty/LDunne.html
  3. Associate Professor, Department of Design, Housing, & Apparel
  5. University of Minnesota
  1. Dr. Susan Ashdown
  2. http://www.human.cornell.edu/bio.cfm?netid=spa4
  3. Helen G. Canoyer Professor, Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design
  5. Cornell University

Style Engineers: Fashion Through Science

NSF Awards: 1139466, 1139501

2015 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades K-6, Grades 6-8

  • Please note, the website will be available June, 2015!
    Style Engineers, formally known as Smart Clothing, Smart Girls, is a youth engagement program which weaves STEM concepts with the field of fashion design. Participants in the Style Engineers program experience STEM as a thriving component of apparel – especially functional clothes! Professors, graduate students, and undergraduate researchers at both Cornell University and the University of Minnesota lead girls through five modules: The Engineering Design Process, Movement Improvement, Marvelous Materials, Smart Clothing, and Patternmaking Tools n’ Tech. The students participate in hands-on laboratory and design activities. Students apply what they learned in the modules to a final culminating project. They are challenged to integrate science and fashion into a final prototype garment. The program culminates in a fashion show where teams showcase their prototypes and present on how they integrated fashion and science!
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Original Discussion from the 2015 Teaching & Learning Video Showcase
  • Icon for: Jessica Hunt

    Jessica Hunt

    May 11, 2015 | 02:55 p.m.

    I enjoyed hearing about the five modules students engage with as a part of this project. I am wondering if you could say more pertaining to the learning goals that are housed within each module.

    I also wondered how the professors, graduate students, and undergraduate researchers support and extend student understandings within each module. What do the teaching-learning interactions look like as the students work within each of the modules?

  • Icon for: Kristen Morris

    Kristen Morris

    Lead Presenter
    Research Assistant/Doctoral Candidate, Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design
    May 13, 2015 | 06:42 p.m.

    Hi, Jessica! Thank you for giving us the opportunity to further explain the modules :) A three min. video was a tough challenge!
    The STEM content we aim to teach in each module include:
    Movement Improvement: Mobility and human movement in textiles and clothing
    Marvelous Materials: Textile structures, textile mechanics, fiber properties, moisture & thermal transport in textiles, and mechanics of impact through textiles and clothing
    Pattern making Tools ’n Tech: Spatial awareness through 2D pattern making and 3D visualization through body scanning and CAD technologies.
    We are Engineers!: Engineering design process, materials research and selection, ideation and concept development, planning, prototyping, testing, revision.
    Smart Clothing: Wearable electronics, basic concepts of electricity, circuit design, circuit fabrication.

    The teaching-learning interactions are informal and we use a variety of methods. We subscribe to experiential learning techniques where the girls explore to find a solution (somewhat) autonomously in small teams. The team interactions are facilitated through a mix of professors, leaders from our community partners, graduate, and undergraduate students. We work through the actives in small teams, and this is really where most of the interaction and enhanced learning applies. We thoughtfully select undergraduates (from within and outside the discipline of apparel design) who we think are good role models. The undergraduates are paired with a team for the week and they really get to know each other. Since our undergraduates come from a variety of backgrounds (mechanical engineering, chemistry, regional and city planning, health sciences) they draw on their personal experiences and education to enhance and relate the learning concepts to their unique experiences! That same model applies to the graduate students and faculty’s areas of expertise.

  • Icon for: Neil Plotnick

    Neil Plotnick

    May 11, 2015 | 05:15 p.m.

    What challenges do you face recruiting the young ladies to participate in this class? I imagine that they may think of fashion design as what is portrayed on Project Runway.

  • Icon for: Kristen Morris

    Kristen Morris

    Lead Presenter
    Research Assistant/Doctoral Candidate, Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design
    May 13, 2015 | 06:17 p.m.

    Hi, Neil! Thank you for your question and you are absolutely correct that we get a lot of preconceived ideas about what constitutes apparel design when the girls first come to the camp. When we first started, the girls envisioned the program as a ‘sewing camp’ and they were a bit frustrated at first because there was not ‘enough sewing.’ Over the years, we have not necessarily added more sewing projects, but changed the order a bit to satisfy their desires. For example, instead of grouping all the Patternmaking Tools n’ Tech activities together at the end, we integrated those activities throughout. They get the experience of ‘learning to sew’ out of the way at the start and then we move on. This past year we have also integrated fashion illustration throughout the week, which is another creative outlet for them. Of course, the sketching is guided and asks them to, ‘sketch (or write) ideas for an outfit that will keep you warm & dry.’ The last thing we have done is actually cater the final design challenge to a more fashion-related project – they design an outfit for a pop-star performing the first concert on a newly colonized planet. We use the fictional environmental conditions to incorporate the functional piece. This was a compromise between their expectations and our learning objectives!

    As you alluded to in your post, the way we recruit has also changed through out the years. We rely heavily on our community partners for recruitment, so part of it was changing their perception of the camps too! Now we have a nice poster with a fashion illustration but her skirt is a word cloud with STEM words.

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Co-Principal Investigator
    May 12, 2015 | 12:56 p.m.

    Very interesting program, glad to see the materials science angle!
    Do you have some data on the girls’ continued interest in science after your program? Or effects on their experience?

  • Icon for: Kristen Morris

    Kristen Morris

    Lead Presenter
    Research Assistant/Doctoral Candidate, Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design
    May 13, 2015 | 07:16 p.m.

    Hi Brian! We have two measures of STEM awareness and also activity-level assessments (quizzes) to gauge learning. We have found that the first STEM interest pre/post is not sensitive enough to pick up any statistically significant differences. We attribute some of this to the girls already high interest in STEM – as they are selected through an application process. As we grow and collect more data (this summer we will reach another 120 girls) we hope to see better results. Last year we created a qualitative pre/post specific to engineering. We see an improvement in their understanding of ‘what is engineering’ – we are firm believers that [functional] apparel design is a form of engineering. On this measure we ask questions like: Name 3 things you use in your daily life that might have been designed by engineers. Here is an actual answer from one participant: PRE: my phone, computers, my iPad; POST: space suits, kneepads, helmets. Not all post test answers reflect apparel products, but overall we see a more diverse set of responses in the post test.

    At the activity level, we see the most concrete evidence of learning. We have integrate ‘quiz’ questions into a few of the activities. For example, in Space Dough (circuit design through conductive play dough) we test for concept understanding in circuit design. In 2012 we found in a pre/post design that girls improved their understanding of short circuits, resistance, parallel circuits, and open circuits with over 85% correct responses. However, their understanding of series circuits decreased from the pre (60% correct responses)/ to post (30% correct responses). We used this data to examine how we teach series circuits and also the question. In 2013 we asked the same questions in a post test (only) and found the understanding of series circuits to be up at 85% correct responses. Furthermore, the 2013 data shows which concepts the girls have the most difficulty in understanding. From least understood to most understood the concepts are current flow, short circuits, resistance, series circuits, parallel circuits, and open circuits. Moving forward we will have one ‘quiz’ attached to at least one activity per module – the activity which we feel best illustrates the concept of the module.

  • Icon for: Rosi Andrade

    Rosi Andrade

    Associate Research Professor
    May 12, 2015 | 07:30 p.m.

    What inventions have the girls developed through fashion design?

  • Icon for: Kristen Morris

    Kristen Morris

    Lead Presenter
    Research Assistant/Doctoral Candidate, Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design
    May 13, 2015 | 05:49 p.m.

    Hi Rosi!
    At the end of the week, the girls make a prototype garment as a team for a space-themed fantasy challenge. It is a conceptual piece that challenges them to incorporate learning content from each of the five modules! The prototypes have been modular shoes, space suits, or outfits for pop stars. Those are the most inventive. Within each module, they also make items (bags and skirts embellished with LEDs) to take home to show their family!

  • Icon for: Louise Allen

    Louise Allen

    Visiting Assistant Professor
    May 13, 2015 | 11:57 a.m.

    What a unique way to engage students. I would be interested in trying something like this at the University level, perhaps as a non-majors science course. Its always nice if you can meet the students where they are and make STEM more approachable. I would also be interested in knowing if you have been able to follow the young ladies after this program to see if any are pursuing science degrees. What is your target age group?

  • Icon for: Kristen Morris

    Kristen Morris

    Lead Presenter
    Research Assistant/Doctoral Candidate, Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design
    May 13, 2015 | 05:54 p.m.

    Hi, Louise!
    Thank you for your comment! We agree that this could be scaled-up for a more advanced crowd! Currently, we are not tracking longitudinal data, although this would be great for continuation grant! We do have a great relationship with our community partners (4-H and Girls, Inc.) and could track this data. Our first camp was held in the summer of 2012 and our oldest participants were 14, so they will be making decisions about careers shortly.

  • Icon for: Neil Plotnick

    Neil Plotnick

    May 13, 2015 | 07:51 p.m.

    I like the idea of showing students that fashion is not just sewing. When I was in junior high school (mid 1970s) there was a sewing teacher. I don’t know of many people that actually sew, knit or otherwise create clothing or other textiles. I think that more of these types of hands on design activities are what our students need. One additional question. Do you believe that many schools will be able to offer similar workshops? Outside of larger cities, I wonder if recruiting tailors and seamstresses would be a major challenge.

  • Icon for: Miyoko Chu

    Miyoko Chu

    Senior Director, Communications
    May 13, 2015 | 11:41 p.m.

    This is such a creative and brilliant way to teach STEM learning through fashion, which most people probably haven’t thought of as related to STEM! When this grant is over, does your team plan to find a way to continue this program? What is the biggest challenge for you in creating a successful program?

  • Icon for: Stephanie Teasley

    Stephanie Teasley

    May 14, 2015 | 08:55 p.m.

    This looks like a really well thought out approach targeted at girls at a particularly important time in their lives. What wasn’t clear to me was how/when the girls do this program – summer camp? week-end or after-school club? It’s also very materials intensive- how can others scale up to implement this kind of program without the support of a big grant? Also, do you know about Leah Buechley? She uses textiles, etc. to engage girls in computer science.

  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.

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