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Arduinos and Games: K-12 Teachers Explore Computer Science (Evaluation)

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Division: Evaluation: Exploring the Impact of Programs & Professional Development for K-12 Teachers

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


Andrea Carneal Burrows Borowczak University of Wyoming Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Andrea C. Burrows received a Curriculum and Instruction: Science Specialization research Ed.D. from the University of Cincinnati, M.S. in Science Education from Florida State University, and a B.S. in Science Education/Biology from the University of Central Florida. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Secondary Education at the University of Wyoming, where she teaches courses in science methods, pedagogy, and research. Dr. Burrows also creates, implements, and evaluates grants at UW. Her research interests include secondary STEM partnerships and the meanings, negotiations, and conceptual changes associated with partnerships. She publishes and writes about STEM education extensively.

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Mike Borowczak Erebus Labs Orcid 16x16

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Mike is the chief scientist and founder of Erebus Labs - a Hardware Security and Engineering Outreach company located in Laramie, WY. He is also the Senior Data Scientist at a recently acquired startup. He has worked with university faculty to promote and extend K20 STEM outreach in Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Wyoming. He also has over a decade of industry and research experience - mostly revolving around the semiconductor and bio-informatics industries - with specific experience at Texas Instruments, Intel and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. In addition to his industry experience, he has spent two years, while completing his PhD in Computer Science and Engineering, as a National Science Foundation GK-12 fellow - teaching and bring real-word STEM applications in two urban high schools. He has authored peer-reviewed articles, presented at national/international conferences, and taught undergraduate/graduate courses in both Hardware Security (computer science & engineering) as well as STEM Education and Outreach.

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A total group of 41 K-12 science, mathematics, and technology (STEM) in-service teachers chose to participate in a Math and Science Partnership grant for professional development (PD), named Launching Astronomy: Standards and STEM Integration or LASSI (resources found at for 25-days during the summer and academic year that involved astronomy and computer science (CS) opportunities (e.g. Arduinos) that they could recreate in their classrooms. Electrical/computer engineering, astronomy, and educational experts defined the activities, which were intended to introduce CS concepts to teachers and thus K-12 students in creative manners. The LASSI PD focused on astronomy – and used CS - as a vehicle to explicitly model problem-based learning, engineering design-based approaches, context-rich problem solving strategies, and real-world applications. All of the foci were ideally suited for helping K-12 students learn the interdisciplinary integrated STEM concepts now called for in the K-12 standards (e.g. Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards - NGSS). Although not traditionally used in STEM subjects (or explored in this paper), astronomy concepts such as black holes, distances to other stars, and planets in star systems beyond our own, are inspirational to K-12 students while being explainable at a technical and quantitative level. Quantitative assessment methods for the LASSI PD included an external evaluator who asked daily survey questions of the participants in the yearlong PD. Included in this paper are the results from 33 participants from two specific days (March and June 2015 respectively), where CS and engineering PD activities were explicitly targeted. Information about the two PD days and the five main PD activities are shared in the paper. Quantitative results show that the teacher participants gave the sessions a mean rating of 4.4 on a 5-point scale. All of the teachers reflected that they were engaged for more than 75% of the time, and at least 70% of all teachers reported that every activity was “very useful.” The hands-on activities - implemented during the workshop -were rated by all teachers as “meaningful,” and every teacher stated that they intended to use at least some of what they learned in their classrooms. The CS content and engineering learning of the teachers increased in pre/post test evaluation and was significant with a p = .0000, correlation of .14, paired-t test of 13.64, and effect size of 4.008. Qualitative K-12 teacher responses are shared in the paper to supplement the quantitative data.

Borowczak, A. C. B., & Borowczak, M. (2016, June), Arduinos and Games: K-12 Teachers Explore Computer Science (Evaluation) Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26275

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