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  1. Alka Harriger
  2. https://tech.purdue.edu/profile/harrigea
  3. Professor & co-PI
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Purdue University
  1. Michael Flynn
  2. Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. College of Charleston
  1. Brad Harriger
  2. https://tech.purdue.edu/profile/bcharrig
  3. Professor & PI
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Purdue University
  1. Sheifali Khare
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/sheifalisubirkhare/
  3. Graduate Research Assistant
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Purdue University

Strategies: Teaching Engineering Concepts to Harness Future Innovators (TECHFIT)

NSF Awards: 1312215

2017 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8, Informal / multi-age

TECHFIT, now in its fourth year, seeks to spark STEM interest in middle school children by demonstrating the impact information and technology have on our world and inspiring this next generation of innovators to design and implement technology-based fitness games to get people moving and having fun while simultaneously and positively improving their health. Teams of middle school teachers complete a six-day, intensive, professional development summer program in the summer in which they learn programming and engineering to innovate their own technology-based fitness games using materials in a provided toolkit. The teacher teams then run an afterschool program for their students with the same objective. Thus far, over 800 students and 70 teachers at 29 schools in four states have completed TECHFIT programs.

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Original Discussion from the 2017 STEM for All Video Showcase
  • Icon for: Laura Farrelly

    Laura Farrelly

    COO
    May 15, 2017 | 08:31 a.m.

    I like the outcomes you tracked with survey data. How did you come up with the idea to combine fitness and tech - was it based on previous research?

  • Icon for: Sheifali Khare

    Sheifali Khare

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 11:18 a.m.

    The researchers came up with the idea. The researchers were at the stadium watching their kids play. During their discussion, they came up with this idea. 

  • Icon for: Michael Stone

    Michael Stone

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2017 | 10:11 a.m.

    This is a really interesting approach to blending programming, making, and fitness! I am curious about the absence of wearable technology. Has your team considered integrating wearable tech as an additional component (perhaps an optional upgrade to the system to the future)? Other than cost, what barriers exist to bringing this to more schools? Finally, the video mentions this as an after school program, but I'm curious if any one has tried using Tech Fit to create interdisciplinary curricular units between Career and Tech Education courses and Physical Education.

  • Icon for: Sheifali Khare

    Sheifali Khare

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 11:22 a.m.

    Yes, we provide the students and teacher's a fitness tracker called Mi Band. The students track their data on excel file and show their improvement at the showcase. We are also developing an online leaderboard where all the students and teachers can view their fitness data online and compete against each other.

  • Icon for: Sheifali Khare

    Sheifali Khare

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 12:41 p.m.

    Barriers: There are ways to acquire the technology at reduced costs, and we’ll share ideas for doing so at our ISTE workshop in late June. We are also working on developing educational resources for non-TECHFIT participants to be able to use to learn how to employ the technology and software for exergame innovation. Because the program combines multiple subjects together, it’s important to gain support from the school administration to assign compatible schedules for the teachers who will lead the program and to make appropriate facilities (PC lab, gym) available to the teachers and students.

     

    Curricular units: We’ve had schools that offered TECHFIT in school as an elective class. The implementations varied, but the ones that seemed to work the best were team taught by teachers of  different subjects in which each teacher contributed instruction based on his/her strength/subject area(s). Having a PE teacher to lead the fitness parts helped, but wasn’t required because we direct teachers to online resources to help lead fitness activities. Likewise, having a CTE teacher aids in the CTE instruction, but we’ve had many teacher teams that had no CTE teacher, but they were able to successfully deliver the CTE aspects of TECHFIT. We even had a math teacher who changed her career focus to CTE after her TECHFIT experience. We just had a meeting yesterday with a subset of our best teachers, and two of them shared their plans to teach TECHFIT content in their respective classes: science and humanities. Math would also be a great fit for using TECHFIT-based modules to make the learning more engaging with practical physical applications. Next year, we’ll be developing modules for specific classes based on appropriate elements in TECHFIT.

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Judi Fusco
  • Icon for: Chris Thorn

    Chris Thorn

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2017 | 12:24 a.m.

    I'm wondering about where you think these technologies and practices might best fit within the school day. Are there courses in which you believe this could be best integrated? The post above suggests CTE and PE courses, but I could imagine this instrumentation could be used across wide range of the curriculum. 

  • Icon for: Sheifali Khare

    Sheifali Khare

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 12:39 p.m.

    We are currently building on TECHFIT to offer it in three contexts: afterschool, in-school elective class, modules in core classes. We’ve had schools that offered TECHFIT in school as an elective class. The implementations varied, but the ones that seemed to work the best were team taught by teachers of  different subjects in which each teacher contributed instruction based on his/her strength/subject area(s). We just had a meeting yesterday with a subset of our best teachers, and two of them shared their plans to teach TECHFIT content in their respective classes: science and humanities. Math would also be a great fit for using TECHFIT-based modules to make the learning more engaging with practical physical applications.

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Judi Fusco
  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2017 | 12:23 p.m.

    This looks like a lot of fun. You say in the video that one of your goals is to  help kids begin to become computational thinkers. How does that work? How are you measuring that? What are you finding that they are learning with respect to computational thinking?

    I guess I have the same questions, in general, about your claims that you are getting them more interested in STEM. Surveys are notoriously bad at really measuring interests and learning; I wonder what particular aspects of the kids' experiences help them think more about STEM and its component parts? And I wonder how else you might measure their progress with respect to interest and learning.

     
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    Judi Fusco
  • Icon for: Sheifali Khare

    Sheifali Khare

    Co-Presenter
    May 19, 2017 | 06:33 p.m.
    Our observations of students from school visits and at the showcase made it apparent that students were developing CT skills through their TECHFIT experiences. They were excellent problem solvers who employed two organization tools, Scratch and nanoNavigator, to design and implement physical, automated systems that employed I/O electronic components that they wired to a PLC. However, the instruments for TECHFIT were not designed to measure CT skills development. Another (NSF STEM+C) grant funded in fall 2016 that builds on TECHFIT will be developing instruments to assess development of CT skills when offering TECHFIT in three different contexts: afterschool, in school class, and modules in specific classes. At that time, we will be able to identify the level of CT skills development through each of the 3 contexts.

    We have observed that many students are very surprised and excited when they realize how they helped build a technology-supported exergame. It gives them a boost of confidence in their capability to work and develop things using technology. They describe the experience as fun (in an unexpected way), suggesting that we are changing misconceptions about the nature of STEM and people who work in STEM. For example, in December 2015, a local TV station did a story about a local school's TECHFIT experience. The news piece included a young lady who said she didn't know what she wanted to do before TECHFIT, but the experience helped her decide that she wanted to become a programmer. When our staff was preparing to create the video for this NSF video Showcase, they interviewed her and learned that she only signed up for TECHFIT because her mom made her do it. Now she will be pursuing a STEM field because TECHFIT raised her awareness and interest.
    We agree that pre/post surveys may not accurately depict long lasting impact. That's one reason why we include a survey that cannot be administered until at least 3 months have passed, but it's usually closer to 5 months. It presents a challenge to us in reconnecting with the students, but we've been fairly successful in getting most of them to respond, and the feedback is overwhelming positive.
     
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    Judi Fusco
  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2017 | 12:26 p.m.

    I want to follow up on Chris' question. I can imagine a CTE elective where kids are learning computing in the context of designing fitness games. But it is a long way from having the experience of designing games and actually learning anything explicit about computation. I wonder how you might envision taking the kids from a set of fun experiences to learning normative content and practices related to computing.

  • Icon for: Sheifali Khare

    Sheifali Khare

    Co-Presenter
    May 19, 2017 | 06:36 p.m.

    From our observations, TECHFIT students have become excellent problem solvers through using two TECHFIT tools, Scratch and nanoNavigator. Furthermore, they use these tools to design and implement physical, automated systems that employ electronic components such as lights, push buttons, and sensors that they wire to a PLC. Their games involve decision-making logic with loops, random numbers, timers, counters, mathematical computations, etc. Although the current instruments for TECHFIT were not designed to measure CT skills development, it is definitely happening. Fortunately, another (NSF STEM+C) grant funded in fall 2016 builds on TECHFIT. A primary outcome will be developing validated instruments to assess development of CT skills, and these instruments will be used to gauge CT skills development when offering TECHFIT in one of three different contexts: afterschool, in school class, and modules in specific classes. Through this new grant, we will be able to identify the level of CT skills development in each of the 3 contexts.

     
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    Judi Fusco
  • May 17, 2017 | 10:09 a.m.

    Hi Alka and team,

    I really love this! Combining CT with physical activity is an approach I haven't seen before, and really seems to me like a potentially transformative way to broaden participation, especially with younger kids. Can you give a few specific examples of how the physical activities use CT?

  • Icon for: Sheifali Khare

    Sheifali Khare

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2017 | 01:12 p.m.

    We provide the students with a technology toolkit which contains controller and different types of sensor. The students develop a game concept and use the toolkit to detect ducks, jumps (using sensors) and keep scores. The teams are also provided with Kinect and they use it to program games.  Recently, one of her schools developed a game similar to maze runner. They designed a life-size maze and had various sensors hooked up to detect the gamer's activities.

  • May 19, 2017 | 10:41 a.m.

    Have you thought about using LEGO Mindstorm kits?  Many schools already have these so they could leverage them.

  • Icon for: Judi Fusco

    Judi Fusco

    Researcher
    May 19, 2017 | 05:16 p.m.

    I love the idea! We need to make sure kids are fit as well as learning!  What a great pairing of worlds. Following up on Janet's post, I too would like to hear more about what specifics kids are learning. If it is not currently in the scope of work it seems like it could be a next piece. :-)  Thanks for sharing your project!

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Sheifali Khare
  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.

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