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Evaluating the Acquisition of Engineering Confidence and Skills Through Robotics

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

K-12 and Pre-college Engineering Poster Session

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.587.1 - 25.587.11



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Paper Authors


Alyssa M. Batula Drexel University

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Alyssa Batula received her B.S. in electrical and computer engineering from Lafayette College in 2009. She received a M.S. in electrical engineering from Drexel University in 2011 and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at Drexel in the Music, Entertainment, Technoloy Lab (METlab). She is on her second year of a STEM GK-12 Fellowship and was awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in 2011. Her interests are signal processing and robotics.

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T. William Mather Drexel University

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Bill Mather is a robotics researcher interested in developing high-level models for multi-robot systems. His research focus has been controlling the higher order statistics of an ensemble of robots in order to maximize the ensemble performance.

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Gabe Carryon Drexel University

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Stuart Surrey Philadelphia High School for Girls


Daniel Edward Ueda Central High School

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Daniel Ueda teaches Physics, AP Physics, and Engineering and Robotics at Central High School in Philadelphia, Penn. He also is the head coach of Central's obotics team, the Robolancers. Ueda has been in teaching for eight years. Prior to teaching, he worked as a Mechanical Engineer for various industrial design firms. He holds a M.S. in teaching from Pace University and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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Youngmoo Kim Drexel University

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Adam K. Fontecchio Drexel University

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Evaluating the Acquisition of Engineering Confidence and Skills Through RoboticsRecently, there has been an emphasis on increasing the number of women in science, technology,engineering, and math (STEM) careers. In order to convince more women to pursue STEM careerpaths, particularly engineering, it is important to reach them before the college level. This paper is a“work in progress” that outlines the development and evaluation of a high school robotics club in orderto engage high school girls in STEM areas. The club began at the start of the 2011-2012 school year ata public, urban all girl's high school. The three main goals are: to develop a sustainable roboticsprogram, to encourage interest in engineering, and to improve engineering skills and confidence in highschool girls. The girl's attitudes towards STEM careers, as well as their logic and spatial reasoningskills, are evaluated throughout the year.In order to provide the club with a structured goal, motivation, and supplies the team signed up for theFIRST Tech Challenge (FTC). FTC teams can have a maximum of 10 students, so to include as manygirls as possible the club has two parts. Ten students are on the official team and meet twice a week.Smaller robotics projects are available for additional students, finishing with an end-of-the-term mini-competition. Engineering mentors are available through a STEM GK-12 program that pairs graduateengineering students with high school teachers. Through this program there is an existing network ofthree graduate students with robotics experience and one teacher who has already established asuccessful robotics club at another local high school.Students in the club, as well as a separate control group, are given short surveys and tests throughoutthe year in order to measure the club's effectiveness at improving students skills, confidence, andinterest level. Self-confidence and interest level are based on student opinion and are evaluated througha survey. We chose spatial reasoning and logic as skill metrics because they are important engineeringskills and are generally quantifiable through tests. We chose to measure these skills via a game, BigBrain AcademyTM for the Nintendo WiiTM. A correlation between certain games and generalintelligence has been shown previously [1]. Student scores are recorded for four games: Train Turn,Match Blast, Block Spot, and Reverse Retention. As an example, the game Train Turn tests spatialskills by presenting the player with a partially completed train track and a goal the train must reach.New pieces of track can be placed to make the train go left, right, or forward from the perspective of thetrain. Points are awarded for speed and for successfully reaching the goal.[1] M.A. Quiroga, M. Herranz, M. Gómez-Abad, M. Kebir, J. Ruiz, Roberto Colom, “Video-games: Do they require general intelligence?,” Computers & Education, Volume 53, Issue 2, September 2009, Pages 414-418, ISSN 0360-1315, 10.1016/j.compedu.2009.02.017.[2] (2007). Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree Screenshots [Online]. Available: 20070606050104872.html Screenshot of the game Train Turn [2].

Batula, A. M., & Mather, T. W., & Carryon, G., & Surrey, S., & Ueda, D. E., & Kim, Y., & Fontecchio, A. K. (2012, June), Evaluating the Acquisition of Engineering Confidence and Skills Through Robotics Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21344

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