June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
26.363.1 - 26.363.10
Communicating Advanced Manufacturing Concepts to Middle-school Students Using Lego-machines (Work in Progress)In 2011, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) identifiedadvanced manufacturing as a key sector for revitalizing the economy and for promoting a cultureof innovation in the United States (US). Following this, several federal programs and initiatives,such as the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) and the National Network forManufacturing Innovation (NNMI), have been announced to promote manufacturing research,education and jobs in the United States. While these steps are geared towards enabling a“manufacturing renaissance” in the nation, the high-tech manufacturing sector is faced with aserious shortage of a skilled workforce. This problem is further compounded by the fact that theyouth in the country have a negative perception of the manufacturing industry and are thereforereluctant to pursue education and career opportunities offered by the field. In order to addressthis national crisis, there is a critical need to develop innovative education and outreachprograms that promote a healthy picture of manufacturing in the United States. The use of Lego-based instructional and outreach modules represent one such avenue.In this paper, we report the design and implementation of an advanced manufacturingeducational module that uses Lego-machines to teach critical manufacturing concepts to middle-school students. The module comprises of a hands-on “design-and-build” exercise that allows thestudents to build a three-axis motion platform using Lego components. This versatile motionplatform is then used by the students to experience five advanced manufacturing-relatedconcepts, viz., 1) The engineering-thought process that is required to construct a complexassembly of controllers, gear trains, and Lego bricks; 2) The “art-to-part” creative process thattransforms an idea into a tangible product; 3) the ability to quantify the 3-D space usingcoordinates that dictate the movements of the Lego-machine in space, 4) Cutting tool selectionprinciples that dictate the trade-off between amount of material removed and resolution of finalproduct, and 5) Tolerances and measurements through the use of a metrology end effector onthe motion platform.Multiple variations of the above module have been developed and tested in local middle-schools,with the most popular one being a one-period activity. The paper will present preliminary resultsfrom the assessment data that point to the efficacy of these modules in teaching advancedmanufacturing concepts to the students and in promoting a healthy view of manufacturing in theUS. Given the success of these one-period modules, a teacher-training workshop was alsoconducted to equip middle-school teachers will the skills needed to implement variants of thismodule in their own classroom. The paper will discuss the outcomes of this teacher-trainingworkshop. In addition, the paper will also present ideas on how this concept of pairing thecommunication of advanced manufacturing concepts with Lego-centered modules can bedeveloped into the framework of a curriculum that would meet state educational standards.
Nowak, J., & Kaczmarek, D. A., & Herkenham, E. S., & Samuel, J. (2015, June), Communicating Advanced Manufacturing Concepts to Middle-school Students Using Lego-Machines (Work in Progress) Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23702
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