June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
22.630.1 - 22.630.16
Enriching K-12 Science Education Using LEGOsEngineering community has a long tradition of “challenge-based competitions” to spur creativityand yield innovative solutions to numerous real-world technical problems. For example, in thelast decade DARPA’s autonomous vehicle and urban challenges have yielded tremendousadvancements in mobile robotics. Similarly, the Ansari and Google X Prizes and NASACentennial Challenges have created a new race to the space. Inspired by the ability of challenge-based programs to draw engineering talent to solve “grand” problems of our age, professionalsocieties, educators, corporations, and government entities have been offering challenge-basedprograms such as the West Point Bridge Design, FIRST Robotics, SAE Design competitions, etc.,to engage and attract K-12 and college students in engineering education and careers.Although today’s students effortlessly interact with modern technological artifacts, they oftenlack an understanding of engineering and technology. In academic setting, participation in aFIRST robotics competition is often the only venue where students get an opportunity to exploreand interact with advanced tools and devices used by engineers and technologists. Many science,technology, engineering, and math (STEM) principles are inherently incorporated intoperforming simple tasks with a LEGO robot, especially in math and physics. Moreover, even lifeand physical science disciplines can be enhanced through robotic activities. To promote students’science understanding, FIRST requires a comprehensive research presentation on competitiontheme, e.g., nanotechnology, climate, transportation, biomedical engineering, etc.Yet, increasingly, educators have been trying to transition these robotic experiences from anafter-school activity into classroom. The LEGO Mindstorms platform offers a variety ofcomponents that not only help engage students’ creativity but also allow the application ofteaching strategies such as scaffolding and problem-based learning. Moreover, judiciousintegration of sensors engages students’ understanding since it allows to connect an abstractconcept or a textbook formula to a tangible measurement performed by students. Finally, thevariety of sensors available with the LEGO robotics platform permits the acquisition andprocessing of a multitude of physical stimuli arising in science subjects that often requireseparate, standalone equipment. This paper will present a series of illustrative LEGO-basedscience lab activities developed under a NSF GK-12 Fellows Program. The activities, developedby engineering graduate Fellows in partnership with K-12 teachers, are grade appropriate,address pertinent learning objectives, and adhere to the science learning standards of the city andstate. For example, in one lab exercise liquid is released from a bottle under various conditions,e.g., nozzle and back pressure. As the released liquid drains into a beaker, two light sensorsacting as photo-gates are used to perform various measurements. The lab addresses elementaryschool standards on scientific inquiry and measurement. In another lab, using LEGO components,sensors, and NXT module, concepts such as gear ratios, friction, potential energy, kinetic energy,and oscillations are illustrated to address middle and high school standards on mechanics. Fullpaper will present details of these and other lessons, assessment of their effectiveness, and resultsof a planned workshop to disseminate these labs to over 40 teachers.
Williams, K., & Kapila, V., & Iskander, M. G. (2011, June), Enriching K-12 Science Education Using LEGOs Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17911
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