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Integration Of Data Acquisition And Analysis For Elementary And Middle School Education

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



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Page Numbers

6.624.1 - 6.624.8

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Martha N. Cyr

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Barbara Bratzel

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Ben Erwin

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

Session 2620

Integration of Data Acquisition and Analysis for Elementary and Middle School Education

Barbara Bratzel, Martha N. Cyr, Ben Erwin Shady Hill School/Tufts University


This paper presents a solution to providing a way for more K-12 students to experience innovative, hands-on learning with data acquisition and analysis. The concept was developed at Tufts University, in partnership with National Instruments and LEGO Dacta®. Through this collaboration, Tufts has developed a graphical programming and data analysis software package for students called ROBOLAB™. ROBOLAB was written with LabVIEW™, which is a product of National Instruments. Our method utilizes ROBOLAB and the autonomous, programmable LEGO brick, the RCX, and its data logging capabilities. With the Investigator component of the ROBOLAB software, students in Kindergarten through college can take data to answer questions about things that interest them. Inventing a device with which to do the investigation gives the student a greater ownership in it, and in turn, provides the connections between the data and what the data look like on a graph. Our paper gives an overview of the solution and several applications, as well as the student and teacher responses.

I. Introduction

Knowledge and understanding come about when a student is actively engaged in the learning process. This idea is commonly referred to as constructivism, Piaget's idea that knowledge cannot be "poured into" the head of a student, but rather that the student must actively construct knowledge inside of her head. The primary reason that knowledge must be constructed and not absorbed is that learning depends on direct experience (Dewey 1). When concepts and ideas are connected with a student's direct experience they lead to deeper understanding. The theory of constructionism, which comes to us from Seymour Papert and other pioneers at the MIT Media Lab, adds to constructivism the notion that the best way for a student to construct knowledge inside of his head is to experience something - design, build or program, test and debug something - outside of his head (2,3,4,5).

Parallel to both of these ideas is the importance of a learning experience that is personally meaningful to the student. In other words, re-creating somebody else's experience (the experience of a famous scientist, for example) in the classroom is not sufficient to facilitate the best learning environment. A personally meaningful project is more directly related to a student's own direct life experience, and hence is more motivating and more likely to lead to a sense of accomplishment and true understanding (1,6,7,8).

“Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2001, American Society for Engineering Education”

Cyr, M. N., & Bratzel, B., & Erwin, B. (2001, June), Integration Of Data Acquisition And Analysis For Elementary And Middle School Education Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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