June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
23.1107.1 - 23.1107.17
Student-created water quality sensorsSensor development is a topical and highly interdisciplinary field, providing motivatingscenarios for teaching a multitude of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)subjects and skill sets.This paper describes the development and implementation of high and middle school lessons,tied to the state and national standards in science, math, and technology, that integratefundamental STEM principles while at the same time introducing students to the field of sensorsand sensor networks—technologies that are increasingly important in all fields, but particularlyin the world of environmental research.In this project, students build, calibrate and test a set of sensors and circuits, to measure a varietyof physical quantities. To build and understand their sensors, they must make use of a wide rangeof core knowledge of mathematics and physical science, as well as learning practical hands-ontechnology skills such as soldering and debugging circuits. In later modules, students interfacetheir sensors with computers, and write programs to gather raw signals from the sensors,implement calibration curves, and perform data manipulation and data logging. In later modules,students program their own communications protocols for wireless data transmission, andconnect their computerized sensor stations together to form a distributed wireless sensornetwork. Additional modules explore the use and implications of this technology forenvironmental 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 studentsat all academic levels, and in both rural and inner-city schools.This paper will provide an overview of the educational modules, a description of the sensorsbuilt by students, and examples of how these activities are tied to core curricula, enabling themodules to be utilized in regular classes without disrupting the semester’s teaching goals, andwill briefly discuss the benefits of the professional development model through which they wereintroduced to the teachers. We will then present the research results of the first three years ofclassroom implementation, during which over 60 teachers were equipped, trained on curriculum,and implemented the modules with over 3,000 middle and high school students and resultingmodifications to the lessons. Results show that as students engaged in hands-on problem solving,they learned engineering, math, and physics concepts. Not only did building and testing sensorsengage the students and increase their interest in STEM subjects and careers, but increased theirunderstanding of fundamental concepts of electricity and increased their basic math (algebra)skills and their awareness of water quality as an environmental issue grew as well.
Hotaling, L., & Lowes, S., & Stolkin, R., & Lin, P. (2013, June), Student-created water quality sensors Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/22492
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