3965 Views
  1. Mike Ryan
  2. http://slider.gatech.edu/
  3. SLIDER Co-PI & Researcher
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Georgia Tech CEISMC
  1. Sabrina Grossman
  2. http://slider.gatech.edu/
  3. Program Director
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Georgia Tech CEISMC
  1. Jayma Koval
  2. Researcher
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Georgia Tech CEISMC
  1. Marion Usselman
  2. SLIDER Principal Investigator
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Georgia Tech CEISMC

Science Learning Integrating Design, Engineering and Robotics

NSF Awards: 0918618

2015 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8

The Science Learning Integrating Design, Engineering and Robotics (SLIDER) project at the Georgia Institute of Technology is in the 5th year of developing and implementing an inquiry and project-based learning curriculum that is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and designed to teach middle school physical science disciplinary content and practices using LEGO Mindstorm NXT as the instructional manipulative. Using Design-Based Implementation Research (DBIR) methods, the team has created a 10-week curriculum and documented the design decisions that resulted from iterative cycles of A) design and creation of materials, B) teacher professional learning sessions, C) enactment by teachers in 8th grade classrooms, D) observation and data collection, and E) problem redefinition and curriculum redesign. These activities have taken place in a diverse set of public schools, ranging from a low-income but fairly stable rural school, to a suburban school with a rapidly changing demographic population and high student turnover, to a stable and high performing affluent school.

This video will focus on the benefits and challenges of using robotics, in this case LEGO Mindstorm NXT kits, as a manipulative to teach science content within the core science classroom. It will feature students using dynamic robotic trucks to explore the disciplinary core ideas of energy and force/motion, the engineering concepts of design, prototype testing and optimization, and the full array of science practices, including a particular emphasis on scientific argumentation. These activities all take place within a project-based and inquiry-focused learning environment.

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Original Discussion from the 2015 Teaching & Learning Video Showcase
  • Icon for: Iliya Gutin

    Iliya Gutin

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 04:54 p.m.

    Hi Mike and team! Your project sounds very innovative and exciting. I note in the project description that you were able to test SLIDER in a variety of school environments, especially with respect to socioeconomic and demographic variability. Have you noticed any differences in terms of how students respond to the SLIDER project when it comes to their personal backgrounds and the types of schools they are in?

  • Icon for: Mike Ryan

    Mike Ryan

    Lead Presenter
    SLIDER Co-PI & Researcher
    May 12, 2015 | 01:33 p.m.

    Hi, Illya – thanks for your note. We did not collect information on the “personal backgrounds” or perspectives of individual students, so we would be unable to comment on how disposition, affect, agency, or identity affected students’ engagement with SLIDER. What I can tell you is that student engagement in the curriculum was not an issue in any of our schools. Teachers usually praised the curriculum’s ability to engage their interest. While not all types of activities were viewed as “fun”, students (and teachers) communicated they definitely preferred the contextualized learning during SLIDER over other units of study during the class year.

    Achievement scores for both core ideas and practices improved in all schools from pre-test to post-test, but the most stable and affluent communities saw larger gains. The issue of stability (low teacher turnover, low student turnover, consistent administration of school policy and norms, fewer annual “new initiatives”) seemed important in students and teachers implementing the curriculum. Stable schools saw gains in achievement and conceptual development across a number of assessments.

    We are in the midst of writing and preparing articles for publication. Check back at our website for these papers in the future:

    www.slider.gatech.edu

    Thanks,
    Mike

  • Icon for: Tony Streit

    Tony Streit

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 12:16 a.m.

    Thanks for your submission. I’m clearly seeing young people engaged in this process. I’m curious though about the role of and impact on educators. In the description I read that this is intended to be fundamentally a project-based inquiry experience. Not all educators are equipped to facilitate these kinds of experiences though. What are you learning about the effectiveness of the intervention related to the educator’s ability to guide the process? Do you think there would be benefit in providing some accompanying PD on PBL?

  • Icon for: Mike Ryan

    Mike Ryan

    Lead Presenter
    SLIDER Co-PI & Researcher
    May 13, 2015 | 07:43 p.m.

    Hi, Tony. We have had considerable PD on inquiry and project learning strategies. Our teachers have been with us for 4-5 years, and with each iteration to the curriculum, each teacher was brought into the development process and informed of the design rationale. Some were veteran PjBL teachers, and others were emerging in their understanding, though they all had a sincere desire to learn about developing their practice.

    The teachers’ development was only tracked as it related to fidelity of implementation, so we were not looking at their development individually. That said, our data and experience backs up what most of the research says about shifting teachers to this paradigm: it takes coaching, iteration, and 3-5 years.

  • Icon for: Beth Sanzenbacher

    Beth Sanzenbacher

    Middle Science Instructional Leader
    May 14, 2015 | 09:59 p.m.

    This looks like a fascinating curriculum! I also teach force and motion in middle school but in a much more “low-tech” way. We build cannons to besiege a fortress. What I like about this project is that students can use any of the materials in the lab to increase force, efficiency and accuracy. Students are extremely creative and resourceful with their materials and repurpose them in surprising ways. What I don’t like is the lack of “21st century” skills, that a robotics program like this one has! However, I am wondering if the designated materials can limit their ingenuity? Is there a best of both worlds scenario?

  • Icon for: Mike Ryan

    Mike Ryan

    Lead Presenter
    SLIDER Co-PI & Researcher
    May 15, 2015 | 11:28 a.m.

    Hi, Beth. The LEGOs present some benefits and some challenges. There is an financial investment upfront that can be daunting for some, and the management, storage, and distribution to students of (literally) 1000s of pieces requires really good planning and classroom management.

    As far as the design, LEGO offers durable, reliable build materials that most students are familiar with. On the other hand, the robotics kits require building and programming skills to really get the benefit of the experience with regard to learning goal. That takes a lot of time and teacher know-how. We are presenting a paper about our experience with LEGO robotics in this project at this summer’s American Society of Engineering Education conference (June). It can more fully answer your question, and we will post a link to that paper after the conference on on website (slider.gatech.edu). Thanks!

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