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STEM Applications: Integrating Informal Learning with the Formal Learning Environment

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

K-12 Robotics

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1083.1 - 23.1083.12



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Paper Authors

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Krystal S Corbett Cyber Innovation Center


JoAnn M. Marshall Cyber Innovation Center/National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center

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JoAnn M. Marshall is the events coordinator for the Cyber Innovation Center. In that role, she recruits schools to participate in the Regional Autonomous Robotics Circuit (RARC), facilitates committee meetings, coordinates event logistics, and serves as a resource to participating teachers. JoAnn received her Bachelor degree from the University of Alabama and her Master degree from the University of Georgia. Her professional career has been dedicated to non-profit organizations in the form of events planning, development, grant writing, and coordinating educational activities for K-12 students.

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STEM Applications: Integrating Informal Learning with the Formal Learning EnvironmentMany times only a select group of students are able to participate in after school activities due tovarious reasons. Because only a few students are able to participate from a given class, onlythose students receive benefits from the extracurricular activity. Additionally, since the activity isusually informal, the students may only identify the activity as extracurricular and not makeconnections between the activity, their schoolwork, and real world applications. Byincorporating after school activities with content in the classroom, deeper connections can bemade as well as impacting a larger demographic of students. Thus, integrating informal learningwith formal learning serves the dual purpose of reaching more students as well as providing avehicle for interactive learning activities in the formal setting. This paper provides a frameworkfor interweaving regional informal learning activities with a sequence of elective courses inSTEM applications.The framework described in this paper is specific to integrating the informal activity of aregional robotics competition (designed for 4th-12th grades) with formal learning, specificallyfor middle school grades (6th – 8th). The STEM applications courses are designed to increaselearning and develop better understanding of fundamental topics while providing preparationtime for the regional robotics competition. While students are learning through the use of arobotics platform, the fundamental STEM topics for the class are re-emphasized. Havinginteractive projects in the classroom provides a context for the fundamental content being taughtwhile also impacting those students who otherwise would not have been able to participate in therobotics competition. Moreover, all students in the class can be exposed to the robotics platformat some level. Additionally, since preparation for the competition is conducted through thecourse, more students have the opportunity to participate on the actual day of competition. Thispaper will provide details of the framework – that integrates informal learning with formallearning – providing examples of how this framework has been implemented and where it hasbeen successful.

Corbett, K. S., & Marshall, J. M. (2013, June), STEM Applications: Integrating Informal Learning with the Formal Learning Environment Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22468

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