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  1. Beryl Hoffman
  2. Associate Professor of Computer Science
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Elms College, Holyoke Codes
  1. Lissie Fein
  2. Educator
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Holyoke Codes
  1. Ali Soken
  2. Phd Student
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. University of Massachusetts Amherst
  1. Ozkan Yildiz
  2. Graduate assistant
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. University of Massachusetts Amherst

NRI:FND:COLLAB: Girls Immersed in Robotics Learning Simulations (GIRLS)

NSF Awards: 1830179

2021 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8, Informal / multi-age

Our NSF project Girls Immersed in Robotics Learning Simulations (GIRLS) has the goal to broaden participation among middle school Latina girls in computer science and robotics by immersing the curriculum in a compelling real-world narrative that involves helping a community through teamwork and collaboration. Our project is building a virtual robotics game called GaleForce where students (grades 6-12) can learn to code virtual robots and drones, immersed in a narrative of hurricane disaster relief in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The virtual robots and drones in the game can be manually controlled or controlled by code that the students write to complete missions. Students will send robots to missions to prepare for the storm and respond after the hurricane hits with tasks such as delivering supplies, evacuation, search and rescue of people and pets, and clearing debris from roads. Students learn coding concepts such as conditionals and loops using a block-based programming language within the game. There is also an introduction to robotic sensors and computer vision which can be used to recognize objects such as stop signs, hospitals, people, pets, etc. The GaleForce Unity game beta and curriculum is being tested in workshops with students from Girls Inc. and the Boys and Girls Club and will be freely available next year.

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Discussion from the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase (17 posts)
  • Icon for: Beryl Hoffman

    Beryl Hoffman

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor of Computer Science
    May 10, 2021 | 05:40 p.m.

    Welcome to our presentation! This is a collaborative research project with Dr. Florence Sullivan and her students at UMass Amherst, myself at Elms College, and the non-profit Holyoke Codes. We welcome comments, questions, and feedback, and hope to connect with community members with similar interests.

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Bernard Yett
  • Icon for: Renee Fall

    Renee Fall

    Researcher
    May 10, 2021 | 06:18 p.m.

    Such a cool game idea!  I'm curious how long is the game, and what is the best context for it (classroom course, out-of-school program, home, or other). Can it be played by teams who are not in the same place? And what was your inspiration for this?

  • Icon for: Beryl Hoffman

    Beryl Hoffman

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor of Computer Science
    May 11, 2021 | 09:05 a.m.

    Thanks Renee! We are preparing 15 hours of curriculum using the GaleForce game which could be used in or out of the classroom. It is a multiplayer virtual game where users could connect from anywhere but is limited to about 16 students at a time at this point. Our initial research project was in-person with Lego EV3 robots, using the same immersive narrative of helping PR during a hurricane,  but we pivoted to develop a virtual platform due to COVID.  

  • Icon for: Mike Vargas

    Mike Vargas

    Facilitator
    Physics Teacher
    May 11, 2021 | 04:38 p.m.

    Hello Beryl, 

    I love this idea ! Our physics team in Arizona does a similar disaster simulation project at the end of our unit on introductory kinematics in freshman physics. One of the things we did was create situations where kids would have to calculate scenarios out like how much time would it take to rescue a survivor from point A vs point B, and would you have the capacity to get to both with time constraints etc.. I think there is ton of value in using something like this to introduce distance, displacement, time, and speed to a class and was wondering if you have thought about this in writing your game scenarios? I see so much possibility for this game and I'm excited to learn more about it. 

    Mike 

  • Icon for: Florence Sullivan

    Florence Sullivan

    Professor & Chair
    May 11, 2021 | 05:38 p.m.

    Mike - thanks for these great suggestions. Actually, we had not gotten this far in our thinking with the game, accept that the sequencing of some of the tasks needs to be given due consideration- for example debris removal must happen first. We are still in the piloting stage with the program, once we have the program working seamlessly, these ideas you’ve suggested will be well worth our time to consider. That is the good thing about these types of games, the learning can be extended in new directions.

  • Icon for: Beryl Hoffman

    Beryl Hoffman

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor of Computer Science
    May 11, 2021 | 05:55 p.m.

    Interesting idea to add time constraints and apply this to physics education! We do have distance calculations using coordinates for the virtual drones, but not with time and speed considerations. We also thought about adding ethical dilemmas on which missions should be done first, but have not implemented that at this time. Do you find that adding a narrative to your physics class also increases engagement? Thanks for your ideas and thoughts!

  • Icon for: Thomas Smith

    Thomas Smith

    Facilitator
    Professor
    May 11, 2021 | 05:11 p.m.

    What an engaging way to learn about coding at the possibilities in robotics! What are the learning outcomes of the game? Does the game collect data on student actions to understand how particular design choices influence learning? What are your goals for scaling this project?

  • Icon for: Beryl Hoffman

    Beryl Hoffman

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor of Computer Science
    May 11, 2021 | 06:05 p.m.

    Thanks! Our learning outcomes are an introduction to co-robotics and robotics terminology and CSTA Algorithms & Programming middle school standards for concepts such as selection, iteration, and variables. We are gathering a code snapshot each time a student/pair/team runs code and are interested in how they collaboratively build and use code and helper tools. We hope to scale and disseminate to have our local CSTA teachers be able to use the game in their classrooms. 

  • Icon for: Rebecca Vieyra

    Rebecca Vieyra

    Facilitator
    Doctoral Student
    May 12, 2021 | 11:43 a.m.

    Hi, all! I think the scenario is really compelling.

    From the sound of it, your focus is on teamwork and collaboration. I'm curious -- what have learned about girls' interest in and attitudes about computers and coding? (How do you see teamwork/collaboration interface with and relate to computer/coding?)

    If you have some kind of instrument you are using to measure attitude and/or skills (interpersonal or computational), I'd love to know!

  • Icon for: Jessica Moon

    Jessica Moon

    Graduate Student
    May 12, 2021 | 03:43 p.m.

    I love the idea of making it into a game! It reminds me of learning games I played growing up. It was so much easier to keep playing and learning because there was a story I was following and goals I wanted to accomplish within the game. How have students reacted to the game in beta tests?

  • Icon for: Beryl Hoffman

    Beryl Hoffman

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor of Computer Science
    May 12, 2021 | 07:02 p.m.

    Thank you for your comments and questions! Students have reacted very positively so far! They want to keep playing even after the workshop is over. The story and the virtual game environment increases engagement. We are using a pre/post survey to measure attitudinal changes and a pre/post test to measure changes in robotics and coding knowledge.

     

  • Icon for: Rebecca Vieyra

    Rebecca Vieyra

    Facilitator
    Doctoral Student
    May 12, 2021 | 09:12 p.m.

    Beryl, can you speak a bit more to if you developed or are using a pre-existing, validated set of instruments for attitudes and robotics and coding knowledge? (I ask as a co-PI on a computational modeling in physics program -- and measuring these skills from a pre-test standpoint is really difficult when students don't have a good sense of functions or programming environments).

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Mike Vargas
  • Icon for: Beryl Hoffman

    Beryl Hoffman

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor of Computer Science
    May 13, 2021 | 09:12 a.m.

    Hi Rebecca,

    We did develop our own instruments (email me at elms.edu if you'd like copies) based on some validated instruments such as https://csedresearch.org/tool/?id=2 and https://csedresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/Instruments/Computing/PDF/CTA-M_ComputationalThinkingAbilitiesMiddleGradesAssessment-Public.pdf by Weibe et al. Our instruments will not be validated due to small sample size. You are right that it is difficult to design good pre/post tests. We did add a "I don't know" option to the pre-test questions.

    -Beryl

  • Icon for: Rebecca Vieyra

    Rebecca Vieyra

    Facilitator
    Doctoral Student
    May 13, 2021 | 02:03 p.m.

    Thanks so much! I was not familiar with this one.

  • Icon for: Toby Baker

    Toby Baker

    Researcher
    May 13, 2021 | 10:51 a.m.

    I love how the focus is on girls! As a researcher and Co-presenter for IC4, we have had middle school girls from all over the world (Pennsylvania, NYC, Brazil, Finland) building Arduinos! They have a bond with the other girl scientists and media-makers that they don't develop in other clubs. They teach each other how to code and together they strengthen each others knowledge and skills. 

  • Icon for: Florence Sullivan

    Florence Sullivan

    Professor & Chair
    May 13, 2021 | 11:00 a.m.

    Great to hear about the success of your project, Toby. We are definitely hopeful of similar outcomes.

  • May 14, 2021 | 02:51 p.m.

    I appreciate the focus on responding to real world problems! I look forward to learning more about your research results.

  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.

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