June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
22.1343.1 - 22.1343.24
Student-created water quality sensorsSensor development is a topical and highly interdisciplinary field, providing motivating scenariosfor teaching a multitude of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjectsand skill sets.This paper describes the development and implementation of a carefully scaffolded set of highschool curriculum modules, tied to the state and national standards in science, math, andtechnology, that integrate fundamental STEM principles while at the same time introducingstudents to the field of sensors and sensor networks—technologies that are increasingly importantin all fields, but particularly in the world of environmental research.In this project, high school students first build, calibrate and test a set of sensors and circuits, tomeasure a variety of physical quantities. To build and understand their sensors, they must makeuse of a wide range of core knowledge of mathematics and physical science, as well as learningpractical hands-on technology skills such as soldering and debugging circuits. In later modules,students interface their sensors with computers, and write programs to gather raw signals from thesensors, implement calibration curves, and perform data manipulation and data logging. In latermodules, students program their own communications protocols for wireless data transmission,and connect their computerized sensor stations together to form a distributed wireless sensornetwork. Additional modules explore the use and implications of this technology for biosciencesand environmental research.The project has been highly successful in a wide range of classrooms, including pre-engineering,biology, earth science, physics, chemistry, mathematics and environmental science, for students atall academic levels, and in both rural and inner-city schools.This paper will provide an overview of the educational modules, a description of the sensors builtby students, and examples of how these activities are tied to core curricula, enabling the modulesto be utilized in regular classes without disrupting the semester’s teaching goals, and will brieflydiscuss the benefits of the professional development model through which they were introduced tothe teachers. We will then present the results of the first year of classroom implementation, duringwhich 36 teachers were equipped, trained on curriculum, and implemented the modules withapproximately 1,000 middle and high school students. Results show that as students engaged inhands-on problem solving, they learned engineering, math, and physics concepts. Not only didbuilding and testing sensors engage the students and increase their interest in STEM subjects andcareers, but increased their understanding of fundamental concepts of electricity and increasedtheir basic math (algebra) skills. Furthermore, their awareness of water quality as anenvironmental issue grew as well.
Hotaling, L., & Stolkin, R., & Lowes, S., & Bonner, J. S., & Kirkey, W. D., & Ojo, T., & Lin, P. (2011, June), Student-Created Water Quality Sensors Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/18774
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