K-12 STEM Program: Exploring the Science of Retroreflectivity Grant uri icon


  • According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations are growing faster than other occupations. However, U.S. students� math and science scores are lagging behind other developing countries. In addition, in-class academic concepts can seem abstract with little relevance to a student�s life. There is a need for in-class curriculum that links academic concepts with real-world STEM applications. Over the past 10 years, Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) researchers have developed many educational activities for elementary and middle school students (K-8) that provide an opportunity to gain hands-on experience and insight into what transportation engineering and other STEM careers have to offer. In 2011, a TTI researcher taught approximately 300 fifth graders about the scientific principles behind reflection, refraction, and retroreflectivity through a brief history of sign sheeting, hands-on activities, and a laboratory exercise. This educational development project will take these initial in-class activities that show real-world applications, link them to academic concepts and standards, and create curriculum and associated materials that can be used by teachers and other professionals across the nation. To get the students thinking about the future of transportation, the relationship between traffic control devices (e.g., signs and pavement markings) and automated vehicles will also be included in the curriculum.

date/time interval

  • 2017 - 2022