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Developing a Creative K-12 Manipulative: An ECECS Capstone

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Capstone Design in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


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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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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Can you explain the basics of computing or computer science (CS)? Most computing experts have no problem talking to their peers about CS, but can they teach novices? Teaching and interacting with students without any prior scaffolding or exposure to CS concepts is outside the expertise area of most CS content experts and STEM faculty. This work highlights the need for, and current gap in K-12 computer science manipulatives. It focuses on the development and implementation of a solution that mitigates the traditional ‘experts teaching novices’ problem. The result, ‘A Block of Code’ allows students to visualize, manipulate and experiment with computer science concepts using a physical medium. This work looks at the impact of authentic value-added capstone projects on student’s soft skills by comparing results of a multi-year collaboration survey given to multiple senior capstone teams. The observed trends suggest that projects with community impact (irrespective of size or geographic constraint) foster increased communication, participation, and ultimately collaboration.

Borowczak, M., & Borowczak, A. C. B. (2016, June), Developing a Creative K-12 Manipulative: An ECECS Capstone Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26718

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