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MAKER: Applications in Do-It-Together, Environmental Monitoring Technologies - Student Projects from an Interdisciplinary, Flipped, Service Learning, Makerspace Course

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Make It!

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1110.1 - 26.1110.19



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Paper Authors


Charles M Schweik University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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Charles M. Schweik is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA. Schweik is the author of Internet Success: A Study of Open Source Software Commons (MIT Press, 2012) that examines collaborative principles in open source software projects.

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Paula Rees University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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Paula L. Sturdevant Rees is Director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Research Center (WRRC). In addition, she is the Director of Diversity Programs for the College of Engineering at UMass Amherst. As Director of Diversity Programs, Dr. Rees works with students, faculty and staff to provide exceptional education and professional growth opportunities for under-represented students in engineering. She is dedicated to increasing and maintaining student interest in engineering and related science and technology and works with several regional K12 programs to help increase the pipeline of students interested in pursuing careers in these fields.

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Steven D Brewer University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Dr. Steven D. Brewer is Senior Lecturer II and Director of the Biology Computer Resource Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A science educator by training, he serves as a consultant to faculty on the implementation of technology in support of education. He is also president of the Board of Directors of Amherst Media and co-founder of Makers at Amherst Media, a town-gown Makerspace.

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Christine Olson


Dan Smoliga

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Daniel Smoliga is a senior mechanical engineering student at UMass Amherst. Dan was one of the students enrolled in the experimental upper-level undergraduate interdisciplinary, flipped, service-learning “maker” course offered in Fall 2014. He has continued work on his project through an independent course this spring, and has also been assisting in his town-gown Makerspace.

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MAKER: Applications in Do-It-Together, Environmental Monitoring Technologies – Student Projects from an Interdisciplinary, Flipped, Service Learning, Makerspace Course  Recently there have been tremendous advances around open source and low-cost technologiesthat have implications for environmental science and environmental management. Prominentexamples of this can be found in the recent “maker movement”, the creation of community-based“makerspaces”, and the emergence of groups like the Public Laboratory for Science( In many ways, the Maker movement represents a logical extension of synthesisof current trends in education: i.e. active learning, problem based learning, team-based learning,flipped classrooms, and community-service learning. In Fall 2014, we offered an experimentalUniversity course to evaluate the efficacy of student learning in an interdisciplinary, flipped,service learning, Makerspace course.Through this course, an interdisciplinary, multi-campus set of self-motivated university studentswas introduced to several general areas of open source or low-cost commercial technologies thatcan be applied to solve real-world environmental management problems. The students identifiedspecific projects to develop based on their particular interests, but centered around two primaryareas: (1) Do-It-Yourself (DIY) / Do-It-Together (DIT) remote sensing of the naturalenvironment and (2) DIY/DIT Arduino- or Raspberry PI-based environmental sensing andmonitoring. Required course deliverables include: (a) An implemented project with digitalproducts, (b) An “instructable” that teaches someone how to implement their project, (c) Apresentation of their project, to be filmed for a new segment of a local public access television“Maker” show and/or posted on a more public platform such as a “research note” on website, and (d) Service learning in the form of mentoring middle school studentsenrolled in an after school program. In addition, the course meeting time was designed to overlapwith a weekly community Maker Meetup. Seven, team-based student projects are currently underdevelopment, including an Arduino-based dog GPS collar, an Arduino-based water qualitymonitor based on the PublicLab “Riffle”, an Ardunio-based air quality monitor, a DIYhydroelectric generator, an autonomous recording unit, a DIY balloon-based mapping of theinvasive species Water Chestnut, and an OpenROV open source submarine modified so that itcan log underwater oxygen levels. Three of the projects already have active Public Lab pages forsharing their work.This effort is part of a larger collaboration across three colleges and multiple departments at theUniversity involving both K12 and University educational components. One or two of thestudent projects from the course will be displayed/demonstrated as part of the Maker postersession. Initial insights gained around three overarching research questions will be presented,including: (1) What role might interdisciplinary, flipped, service learning, Makerspace coursesplay in undergraduate and graduate student curriculum? and (2) Can such courses be effectivelyleveraged to play a significant role in engaging K12 students in Science, Technology,Engineering, Arts, and Math?

Schweik, C. M., & Rees, P., & Brewer, S. D., & Olson, C., & Smoliga, D. (2015, June), MAKER: Applications in Do-It-Together, Environmental Monitoring Technologies - Student Projects from an Interdisciplinary, Flipped, Service Learning, Makerspace Course Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24447

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