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Impact Of Teaching Engineering Concepts Through Creating Lego Based Assistive Devices

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Engineering in Middle Schools

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.828.1 - 12.828.17



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Paper Authors

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Morgan Hynes Tufts University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Impact of teaching engineering concepts through creating LEGO- based assistive devices


LEGO robotics is not all that new to the classroom. Teachers have used the toolset to teach STEM subjects in exciting and hands-on ways. Sure students appear to be more engaged and appear to be learning, but how does such a curriculum impact students’ attitudes and knowledge? How do you design such a curriculum of robotics to also appeal to female students? These are questions this study attempts to answer. The study involves a 15-hour robotics unit that has groups of students design, construct, and test an assistive device they create using the LEGO robotics toolset. The curriculum was designed to address specific standards from the Massachusetts state curriculum frameworks. The assistive device theme was chosen to appeal to both males and females for whom engineering has, traditionally, not been appealing. The curriculum was then taught by a pair of teachers who had been trained in the LEGO toolset and curriculum in a two-week summer professional development workshop, which addresses yet another question. Can a teacher novice to LEGO robotics effectively teach such a curriculum with just two weeks worth of training? To answer these questions, the teachers from the summer professional development workshop (n=12, female=6, male=6) were interviewed and given knowledge surveys before and after the workshop, and a seventh grade classroom of Boston Public School students (n=24, female=14, male=10 ) were given attitude and knowledge surveys before and after the unit. The attitude survey assessed the students’ perceptions of both science and engineering while the knowledge survey assessed questions modified from the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). The results of the study revealed significant achievement on the knowledge assessment and, somewhat surprisingly, a much more significant increase in the females’ perception of the usefulness of engineering as opposed to the males’.


Engineering not only makes the technology around us possible, it is also an amazing way to put the knowledge we have to a real and practical use. Engineering in the classroom allows students to see the value of what they are learning, apply their knowledge to contexts that make sense to them, and be free to create and explore the world around them. Massachusetts recently included engineering and technology frameworks in the entire K-12 curriculum as required material[1]. Currently, students are being tested on engineering and technology content on the MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) test; however, very few of these students are getting any formal instruction related to the engineering/technology frameworks. Two reasons for this are, one, there are very few middle school teachers with any formal training in engineering or technology, and, two, very little curricula designed to teach the content outlined in the Massachusetts state curriculum frameworks. If engineering is going to be taught in the classroom, teachers will undoubtedly require an engineering curriculum and some preparation prior to teaching the curriculum. This study looks at a pair of teachers and an engineering curriculum to see the impact they have on 7th grade students. This teaching pair attended a two- week summer professional development program specifically designed to prepare them to teach the engineering curriculum. The teachers were given pre- and post- knowledge and confidence

Hynes, M. (2007, June), Impact Of Teaching Engineering Concepts Through Creating Lego Based Assistive Devices Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2415

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