June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
24.28.1 - 24.28.9
An Evaluation of a Collaborative STEM Education Framework for High and Middle School Students (Research-to-practice studies)Effective STEM education needs teaching tools that promote critical thinking and modalities toput learning in the context of real world problems. This is further emphasized in the nextgeneration science standards (NGSS) for high school engineering that expects students to engagewith the global issues at the interface of science, technology, society and environment(http://www.nextgenscience.org/ ). Study of traffic patterns is one such real world problemdomain to stimulate student interest in STEM. However, existing tools for modeling and analysisof traffic systems are too complex for high-school and middle-school students.To scaffold students’ analysis of traffic problems, we have developed a suite of intuitive, easy-to-use and grade-appropriate tools used in two stages that provide input and output interfaces tomore complex traffic simulation systems. First, agent-based simulations are used by studentsindividually to help them understand and model the dynamics of traffic flows in terms of physicsand mathematical models. Second, a collaborative tool available on ubiquitous user devices, suchas tablets, is used to apply the concepts learned in the first stage, and solve traffic flow problemsboth individually and collaboratively on a traffic simulator. The complexities of the simulator arehidden from the students by hosting it in the cloud. Instead, the intuitive Google maps serve asthe input interface that renders traffic dynamics from the simulator, and allows students to set upparameters for running a variety of traffic simulation scenarios. The output interfaces includeplot routines to support interpretation and analysis of the simulation results.An initial prototype of the system was evaluated by introducing it to two groups of students withone group of seven 10th and 11th graders who were pursuing an Engineering track in their highschool, and a second group of nine middle school students, who were attending a sciencesummer camp. The students first used the agent-based modeling environment to build models ofvehicle movement through STOP signs and intersections using their knowledge of physics(Newton’s laws) and mathematics (elementary calculus). In the next step, they continued to workindividually with the collaborative tool working on problems to minimize waiting time andqueue length, and to maximize traffic flow by experimenting with ranges of vehicle parameters,vehicle turn ratios and traffic signal timing. Next, they worked collaboratively in groups todetermine traffic signal logic to optimize traffic flow through multiple intersections.The results of our initial experiments are encouraging and demonstrate the flexibility of theframework to cater to both high school and middle school students. Although some of the highschool students lacked important physics knowledge, with some initial scaffolding they wereable to understand and apply the fundamental concepts. The students successfully solved thegiven problems using a combination of STEM and computational thinking concepts. Based onfeedback we have received, we are enhancing the tool capabilities for use in a STEM curriculumat two high schools in Spring 2014.
Shekhar, S., & Caglar, F., & Dukeman, A., & Hou, L., & Gokhale, A., & Kinnebrew, J. S., & Biswas, G. (2014, June), A Collaborative K-12 STEM Education Framework Using Traffic Flow as a Real-world Challenge Problem Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--19920
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