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Research Experience for Teachers Site: A Work-in-Progress Report

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1041.1 - 24.1041.12



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Paper Authors


Vikram Kapila Polytechnic Institute of New York University Orcid 16x16

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VIKRAM KAPILA is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. His research interests are in control system technology, mechatronics, and K-12 STEM education. He directs an NSF funded Web-Enabled Mechatronics and Process Control Remote Laboratory, an NSF funded Research Experience for Teachers Site, and an NSF funded GK-12 Fellows project. He received NYU-Poly’s 2002, 2008, and 2011 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. His scholarly activities have included 3 edited books; 7 chapters in edited books, 1 book review, 52 journal articles, and 106 conference papers. Moreover, he has mentored over 100 high school students, over 300 school teachers, 28 undergraduate summer interns, and 11 undergraduate capstone-design teams, and graduated 1 B.S., 16 M.S., and 4 Ph.D. students. He directs K-12 education, training, mentoring, and outreach programs that currently enrich the STEM education of over 2,000 students annually.

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Research Experience for Teachers Site: A Work-in Progress ReportUnder an NSF-funded Research Experience for Teachers (RET) Site project, 12 middle and highschool teachers participated in a six-week summer workshop focused on mechatronics, robotics,and entrepreneurship. The workshop was divided into two parts: a two-week guided training anda four-week collaborative research experience.In the first eight days of guided training, each morning and afternoon session included a 60minute theory, component, or concept introduction; a 150 minute structured, hands-on project;and a 30 minute discussion. The structured project for each session augmented the correspondingintroductory lecture and consisted of hands-on experiments and design activities. These activitiesillustrated real-world applications of fundamentals covered in introductory lectures to reinforceand impart a greater sense of understanding. Such a curriculum and instruction strategy exposedteachers to fundamental mechatronics design principles as they learned the core concepts throughactivities wherein they built practical devices that integrated and illustrated their learning. Thediscussion portion of each session provided participants with an opportunity to reflect on thesession’s work and to brainstorm ways of integrating these activities in K-12 STEM learning. Onthe last two days of the guided training, an entrepreneurship module—consisting of instruction,experiential learning, group discussion, reflection, and site visit—was conducted.In the research experience phase, teams of two teachers conducted research in a collaborativeenvironment consisting of graduate researchers, undergraduate summer research assistants, andfive engineering faculty. They developed lesson plans to highlight salient aspects of theirresearch that illustrate grades 6—12 level STEM concepts. Each team also completed projectportfolios consisting of: a research project report, presentation slides, and a website. On the lastday, in the afternoon session, teachers presented and demonstrated their research projects to theuniversity community. Illustrative examples of research projects undertaken by teachers include:(1) design of a device to measure electric current in a motor to determine energy consumption;(2) application of an embedded computing system for facial recognition and learning; (3)development of mechanism and computing modules for a humanoid robot; and (4) developmentof an environmental sensing module for an aquatic robot; among others. Similarly, illustrativelesson plans include: (1) analyzing motion with Galileo’s ramp; (2) robotic clock to exploreequivalent fractions; and (3) weather sensing; among others.Project assessment activities included: (1) pre- and post-project technical quizzes; (2) pre- andpost-project mechatronics concepts and skills inventory; and (3) a site visit by an externalevaluator that included observations, interviews, and focus groups involving the teachers,research collaborators, and faculty mentors, among others.Final submission of this paper will provide details of activities undertaken in the guided trainingas well as illustrative examples of collaborative research conducted by the teachers and theirrespective lesson plans. Moreover, it will detail external evaluator’s findings on project’s impacton teachers.

Kapila, V. (2014, June), Research Experience for Teachers Site: A Work-in-Progress Report Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22974

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