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Engaging Children in Design Thinking Through Transmedia Narrative (RTP)

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Middle School Students' Engineering Identity, Efficacy, Attitudes, and Perceptions

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

16

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/30395

Download Count

47

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Paper Authors

biography

Glenn W. Ellis Smith College

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Glenn Ellis is a Professor of Engineering at Smith College who teaches courses in engineering science and methods for teaching science and engineering. He received a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Lehigh University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering and Operations Research from Princeton University. The winner of numerous teaching and research awards, Dr. Ellis received the 2007 U.S. Professor of the Year Award for Baccalaureate Colleges from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. His research focuses on creating K-16 learning environments that support the growth of learners’ imaginations and their capacity for engaging in collaborative knowledge work.

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biography

Isabel Huff Springfield Technical Community College

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After participating in the instructional design of Through My Window during her four years as an undergraduate, Huff is now its outreach coordinator. She graduated summa cum laude from Smith College with a double major in Economics and Spanish in Spring 2014 and now works on the Springfield Technical Community College side of the Through My Window National Science Foundation grant.

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biography

Al Rudnitsky Smith College

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Al Rudnitsky teaches Introduction to the Learning Sciences; Thinking, Knowing and the Design of Learning Environments, How Do We Know What Students are Learning?, and instructional methods in elementary and middle school mathematics and science. He has authored books on curriculum design and teaching children about scientific inquiry. Current research interests focus on creating environments for “good talk” in elementary and middle school classrooms, and also on advancing the use of knowledge building pedagogy in higher education. His most recent article (2013) is entitled “Tasks and Talk: The Relationship Between Teachers’ Goals and Student Discourse,” in Social Studies Research and Practice.

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Beth McGinnis-Cavanaugh Springfield Technical Community College

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Beth McGinnis-Cavanaugh, M.S. C. E. University of Massachusetts Amherst, is professor of physics and engineering at Springfield Technical Community College. She focuses on developing meaningful educational strategies to recruit and retain a diverse student body in engineering and designs innovative learning environments at all levels of the engineering pipeline. With expertise in the design of PD and learning communities, Beth leads a collaboration with educators as co-PI on an NSF K12 engineering education project. She is the 2014 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education Massachusetts Professor of the Year.

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Sonia K. Ellis Smith College

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Sonia K. Ellis holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.S in chemical engineering from Princeton University. She is a writer and instructional designer. On the Through My Window project, she is the author of Talk to Me and TimeTilter, and a designer and editor of the online learning adventures.

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Abstract

This paper will present the implementation of Imaginative Education (IE) pedagogy for creating a transmedia learning environment that engages children in engineering design. Cited in How People Learn and the literature on supporting transfer, IE uses narrative to engage learners’ imaginations; helps them master the cognitive tools necessary for progressing to higher levels of understanding; and helps them structure what they learn in meaningful ways.

Included in the paper will be an overview of the online learning environment that we have developed for middle school children. Funded by the National Science Foundation, all elements of the website were developed using IE pedagogy. The website includes an illustrated young adult novel and an audiobook in which fictional characters learn about engineering concepts while solving a mystery. It also includes interactive, multimedia learning adventures that tie into the novel.

The focus of the paper will be showing how IE pedagogy was used to create the "Trapped in Time" learning adventure. In this adventure users accompany characters from the novel who are trapped in a cave below a spooky house. Here they meet a time machine that transports them back in time. During their travels, they learn about the design cycle by interacting with Edison and Tesla as they debate the electrification of Chicago and by helping NASA engineers save the Apollo 13 astronauts. Finally, the users help the characters apply what they have learned to design a creative way out of the cave. Included in the adventure are an interactive graphic novel that frames the story, numerous videos, an online journal and several games and puzzles that the users need to solve to complete the story.  Throughout the adventure the terminology and engineering content are carefully aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. 

During the 2016-17 school year 14 middle and elementary schools and 30 afterschool programs used the website. Data collected by an external evaluator examining the impact of this approach on student attitudes and learning will be presented in the paper. Surveys and focus groups indicated improved attitudes towards engineering and increased STEM identify. Matched pre- and post-tests indicated an improved ability to apply engineering design concepts after completing the adventure.

Ellis, G. W., & Huff, I., & Rudnitsky, A., & McGinnis-Cavanaugh, B., & Ellis, S. K. (2018, June), Engaging Children in Design Thinking Through Transmedia Narrative (RTP) Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30395

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