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Biologically Inspired Design For Engineering Education: Online Teacher Professional Learning (Evaluation)

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Pre-College Engineering Education Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Page Count

18

DOI

10.18260/1-2--36749

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/36749

Download Count

54

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Paper Authors

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Meltem Alemdar Georgia Institute of Technology

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Dr. Meltem Alemdar is s Associate Director and Principal Research Scientist at Georgia Institute of Technology’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC). Her research focuses on improving K-12 STEM education through research on curriculum development, teacher professional development, and student learning in integrated STEM environments. Dr. Alemdar is currently co-PI for research on various NSF funded projects. In addition, she has been external evaluator for various NSF Projects over the past nine years. Her expertise includes program evaluation, social network analysis and quantitative methods such as Hierarchical Linear Modeling, and Structure Equation Modeling. As part of an NSF funded project, she directed a longitudinal study that focused on measuring engineering curriculum impact on student learning and 21st Century skills. She also has directed a large multi-year multi-institutional social network analysis study to measure changing collaboration patterns among program investigators as a part of a NIH funded grant. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Policy, with a concentration in Research, Measurement, and Statistics, from Georgia State University.

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Hoda Ehsan Georgia Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-3681-317X

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Hoda is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Education Integrating Science, Math and Computing (CEISMC)
Georgia Institute of Technology. She earned her PhD in Engineering Education from the School of Engineering Education at Purdue. She received her B.S. in mechanical engineering in Iran, and obtained her M.S. in Childhood Education and New York teaching certification from City College of New York (CUNY-CCNY). She is now a graduate research assistant on STEM+C project. Her research interests include designing informal setting for engineering learning, and promoting engineering thinking of children with special needs in informal and formal settings.

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Christopher Cappelli Georgia Institute of Technology

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Christopher Cappelli, MPH, is a Research Associate at the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a member of the CEISMC evaluation team, where he conducts research and evaluation in the fields of K-12 education and public health.

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Euisun Kim CEISMC

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Euisun Kim is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) at Georgia Institute of Technology.

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Roxanne Moore Georgia Institute of Technology

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Roxanne Moore is currently a Research Engineer at Georgia Tech with appointments in the school of Mechanical Engineering and the Center for Education Integrating Mathematics, Science, and Computing (CEISMC). She is involved with engineering education innovations from K-12 up to the collegiate level. She received her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2012.

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Michael Helms Georgia Institute of Technology

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Dr. Michael Helms is a Research Scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where his research focused on improving design creativity. In addition to teaching biologically inspired design and cognitive science at Georgia Tech, Michael has over 40 peer reviewed publications in the field of design innovation. Michael’s recent work focuses on understanding how biologically inspired design methods can be applied in K-12 education to increase student engagement and persistence in engineering.

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Jeffrey H. Rosen Georgia Institute of Technology

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After 14 years in the middle and high school math and engineering classroom where Mr. Rosen was working on the integration of engineering and robotics into the teaching of the core curricula classrooms. He has now been at Georgia Tech's CEISMC for the past 13 years working on curriculum development and research on authentic STEM instruction and directing the state's FIRST LEGO League competition program. Mr. Rosen has participated as senior personnel on a number of research projects related to the integrative stem learning and has authored or co-authored papers and book chapters that address issues of underrepresented populations participation in engineering programs and the integration of robotics and engineering into classroom instruction.

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Marc Weissburg Georgia Institute of Technology

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Abstract

Biologically inspired design has become increasingly common in graduate and undergraduate engineering programs, consistent with an expanding emphasis by professional engineering societies on cross-disciplinary critical thinking skills and adaptive and sustainable design. However, bio-inspired engineering is less common in K-12 education. In 2019, the NSF funded a K-12 project entitled Biologically Inspired Design for Engineering Education (BIRDEE), to create socially relevant, accessible, and highly contextualized high school engineering curricula focusing on bio-inspired design. Studies have shown that women and underrepresented minorities are drawn to curricula, courses, and instructional strategies that are integrated, emphasize systems thinking, and facilitate connection building across courses or disciplines. The BIRDEE project also seeks to interest high school girls in engineering by providing curricula that incorporate humanistic, bio-inspired engineering with a focus on sustainable and authentic design contexts. BIRDEE curricula integrate bio-inspired design into the engineering design process by leveraging design tools that facilitate the application of biological concepts to design challenges. This provides a conceptual framework enabling students to systematically define a design problem, resulting in better, more well-rounded problem specifications.

The professional development (PD) for the participating teachers include six-week-long summer internships in university research laboratories focused on biology and bio-inspired design. The goal of these internships is to improve engineering teachers’ knowledge of bio-inspired design by partnering with cutting-edge engineers and scientists to study animal features and behaviors and their applications to engineering design. However, due to COVID-19 and research lab closures in the summer of 2020, the research team had to transfer the summer PD experience to an online setting. An asynchronous, quasi-facilitated online course was developed and delivered to teachers over six weeks. In this paper, we will discuss online pedagogical approaches to experiential learning, teaching bio-inspired design concepts, and the integration of these approaches in the engineering design process. Central to the online PD design and function of each course was the use of inquiry, experiential and highly-collaborative learning strategies.

Preliminary results show that teachers appreciated the aspects of the summer PD that included exploration, such as during the “Found Object” activity, and the process of building a prototype. These activities represented experiential learning opportunities where teachers were able to learn by doing. It was noted throughout the focus group discussions that such opportunities were appreciated by participating teachers. Teachers indicated that the experiential learning components of the PD allowed them to do something outside of their comfort zone, inspired them to do research that they would not have done outside of this experience, and allowed them to “be in the student's seat and get hands-on application”. By participating in these experiential learning opportunities, teachers were also able to better understand how the BIRDEE curriculum may impact students’ learning in their classrooms.

Alemdar, M., & Ehsan, H., & Cappelli, C., & Kim, E., & Moore, R., & Helms, M., & Rosen, J. H., & Weissburg, M. (2021, July), Biologically Inspired Design For Engineering Education: Online Teacher Professional Learning (Evaluation) Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36749

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