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Middle School Teacher Professional Development in Creating a NGSS-plus-5E Robotics Curriculum (Fundamental)

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineering Professional Development using Robotics Activities

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Shramana Ghosh NYU Tandon School of Engineering

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Shramana Ghosh received her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from University of California, Irvine in 2017, her Masters in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University in 2013, and her Bachelors in Manufacturing Processes and Automation Engineering from University of Delhi in 2011.
She is currently working as a postdoctoral associate at the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, NYU Tandon School of Engineering, NY, USA. In this role she supports and studies use of robotics in K-12 STEM education. Her other research interests include robotics, mechanical design, and biomechanics.

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Veena Jayasree Krishnan NYU Tandon School of Engineering

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Veena Jayasree Krishnan received a Master of Technology (M. Tech.) degree in Mechatronics from Vellore Institute of Technology, Vellore, India in 2012. She has two years of research experience at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. She is currently pursuing Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. She is serving as a research assistant under an NSF-funded DR K-12 research project to promote integration of robotics in middle school science and math education. For her doctoral research, she conducts mechatronics and robotics research in the Mechatronics, Controls, and Robotics Laboratory at NYU.

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Sheila Borges Rajguru NYU Tandon School of Engineering Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Sheila Borges Rajguru is the Assistant Director of the Center for K-12 STEM Education, NYU Tandon School of Engineering. As the Center's STEAM educator and researcher she works with engineers and faculty to provide professional development to K-12 STEM teachers with a focus on social justice. She is currently Co-Principal Investigator on two NSF-grants that provide robotics/mechatronics PD to science, math, and technology teachers. In addition, she is the projects director of the ARISE program. This full-time, seven-week program includes: college level workshops and seminars, and a high level research experience in NYU faculty labs. Her commitment to diversity and equity is paramount to her work in STEAM and activism. As a former Adjunct Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University and biomedical scientist in immunology Dr. Borges balances the world of what scientists do and brings that to STEAM education in order to provide culturally relevant professional development and curricula that aligns to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Her free time is spent hiking, growing spiritually, and enjoying her family and friends. Moreover, Dr. Borges is treasurer and co-chair of the Northeastern Association for Science Teacher Education (NE-ASTE) where faculty, researchers, and educators inform STEM teaching and learning and inform policy.

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Vikram Kapila NYU Tandon School of Engineering Orcid 16x16

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Vikram Kapila is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering (NYU Tandon), where he directs a Mechatronics, Controls, and Robotics Laboratory, a Research Experience for Teachers Site in Mechatronics and Entrepreneurship, a DR K-12 research project, and an ITEST research project, all funded by NSF. He has held visiting positions with the Air Force Research Laboratories in Dayton, OH. His research interests include K-12 STEM education, mechatronics, robotics, and control system technology. Under a Research Experience for Teachers Site, a DR K-12 project, and GK-12 Fellows programs, funded by NSF, and the Central Brooklyn STEM Initiative (CBSI), funded by six philanthropic foundations, he has conducted significant K-12 education, training, mentoring, and outreach activities to integrate engineering concepts in science classrooms and labs of dozens of New York City public schools. He received NYU Tandon’s 2002, 2008, 2011, and 2014 Jacobs Excellence in Education Award, 2002 Jacobs Innovation Grant, 2003 Distinguished Teacher Award, and 2012 Inaugural Distinguished Award for Excellence in the category Inspiration through Leadership. Moreover, he is a recipient of 2014-2015 University Distinguished Teaching Award at NYU. His scholarly activities have included 3 edited books, 9 chapters in edited books, 1 book review, 62 journal articles, and 154 conference papers. He has mentored 1 B.S., 35 M.S., and 5 Ph.D. thesis students; 58 undergraduate research students and 11 undergraduate senior design project teams; over 500 K-12 teachers and 118 high school student researchers; and 18 undergraduate GK-12 Fellows and 59 graduate GK-12 Fellows. Moreover, he directs K-12 education, training, mentoring, and outreach programs that enrich the STEM education of over 1,000 students annually.

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The persistent lack of diversity in STEM fields remains a serious challenge for U.S. global competitiveness. STEM jobs are growing 29% faster than any other U.S. sector. Yet, today, white men hold roughly 75% of all scientists and engineering jobs, despite making up only 26% of the total workforce. The cause of this diversity gap can be traced to our educational system, where girls and most children-of-color do not receive equitable public education due to high teacher attrition rates, which in turn affects access to well-trained teachers, and lack of school resources. In addition, “many...students are frustrated by an education they often find irrelevant and removed from the world of work”. This decoupling leads to a decrease in intrinsic motivation and disengagement in STEM fields.

To address the aforementioned STEM national concerns, twenty-six states were involved in creating the national standards, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The NGSS is unique in that each standard is called a Performance Expectation (PE). Each PE is made up of three dimensions: Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI’s), Cross Cutting Concepts (CCC’s), Science and Engineering Practices (SEP’s). It is recommended that to teach students effectively, their prior knowledge should be accessed and science misconceptions should be identified to undergo conceptual change—replaced with the correct scientific conceptualization. To do this, we used the 5E Instructional Model (5E’s), which takes learners through a learning progression by engaging them in hands-on activities. The 5E’s are: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. The first “E” engages learners in a question that usually is a common science misconception. As the learner goes through the journey of all the 5E’s the science concept becomes clear.

Teacher professional development (PD) that addresses the transition from previous standards to NGSS is crucial. This paper will describe the process and result of developing a LEGO robotics, NGSS, and 5E aligned middle school curriculum during a three-week summer PD program for teachers who teach urban students-of-color. This distinctive curriculum was developed and refined through a multi-stage process: (i) involving PD facilitator training; (ii) three dimensional NGSS curriculum development by teachers and facilitators; and (iii) teacher participants’ support of other teachers. Six middle school science and math teachers participated in the study who had previously undergone LEGO robotics PD with us but lacked formal NGSS-plus-5E lesson development experience. This was done purposefully to focus on curriculum development for the new national standards. A qualitative case study is used as a methodology for analysis. A sociocultural theoretical framework highlighting Bourdieu’s social capital and a critical constructivist perspective are used to describe the benefits of balancing the power of mentor-protégé relationship. This bricolage is used to show that although PD facilitators have a grasp on science concepts and have knowledge on how to create NGSS-plus-5E lessons, teachers inform the pedagogy on how to teach the concepts to middle school students. Teachers and PD facilitators shared human capital, which formed opportunities for them to create strong ties and learn from each other, thereby, socially constructing knowledge.

Ghosh, S., & Jayasree Krishnan, V., & Borges Rajguru, S., & Kapila, V. (2019, June), Middle School Teacher Professional Development in Creating a NGSS-plus-5E Robotics Curriculum (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33108

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