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Supporting Teachers to Implement Engineering Design Challenges using Sensor Technologies in a Remote Classroom Environment

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

5

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37789

Download Count

19

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Paper Authors

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Alexandra Gendreau Chakarov University of Colorado Boulder

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Dr. Gendreau Chakarov received her Ph.D. in Computer Science and Cognitive Science from the University of Colorado Boulder where she examined how to integrate computational thinking into middle school science curriculum using programmable sensor technologies as part of the SchoolWide Labs project. She continues this work on the SchoolWide Labs Project as a research associate where she serves as the computer science and computational thinking specialist.

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Jeffrey Bush University of Colorado Boulder

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Quentin Lee Biddy University of Colorado Boulder

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Dr. Quentin Biddy is a Research Associate in the Institute of Cognitive Science. He is currently working with the iHUB and Schoolwide Labs projects researching and developing open source resources to support high school and middle school science teachers transitioning to Phenomena-Driven, Three-Dimensional Learning and assessment aligned to the NGSS. Through his work with the Schoolwide labs project, he is focusing on supporting middle school science teachers intentionally integrating Computational Thinking Practices into students’ learning experiences through co-designed CT integrated NGSS aligned storylines. His research/work experience and interests focus on effective science learning and teaching, Phenomena-Driven learning, NGSS aligned 3D Learning and formative assessment, CT integration, Pedagogical Content Knowledge, teacher professional learning, and the Nature of Science and History of Science in science education.

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Jennifer Jacobs University of Colorado Boulder

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Dr. Jennifer Jacobs is an associate research professor at the Institute of Cognitive Science at CU-Boulder. Dr. Jacobs has served as the PI or Co-PI on a variety of funded studies spanning mathematics and science education, with a particular focus on the development of curricular and professional learning resources for teachers and their impact on classroom instruction and student learning.

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Mimi Recker Utah State University

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Tamara Sumner University of Colorado Boulder

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I am a Professor at the University of Colorado, with a joint appointment between the Institute of Cognitive Science and the Department of Computer Science. I am currently serving as the Director of the Institute of Cognitive Science. I lead an interdisciplinary research and development lab that studies how computational tools – combining cognitive science, machine intelligence, and interactive media – can improve teaching practice, learning outcomes and learner engagement. My research and teaching interests include personalized learning, learning analytics, cyberlearning environments, educational digital libraries, scholarly communications, human-centered computing, and interdisciplinary research methods for studying cognition. I have written 140 articles on these topics, including over 80 peer-reviewed scholarly publications.

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Abstract

Engineering design challenges illustrate how computational tools are integral to scientific inquiry. Yet, how to develop challenges that are meaningful and relevant for middle school students in ways that promote design, engineering, and computational thinking remains difficult, particularly during a global pandemic. This poster describes teachers’ professional learning and implementation of an inquiry-oriented instructional unit where middle school students address the design challenge of creating a data display to represent information about their local environment. The instructional unit, called the sensor immersion unit, was collaboratively designed and revised over several school years with fifteen middle school STEM and science teachers in a large, urban school district. Students use low-cost programmable sensor technologies that are composed of a microcontroller, alligator clippable environmental sensors (such as a sound or soil moisture sensor), and a speaker and LEDs to create simple data displays. Students program the microcontroller using a block-based programming language to manipulate and display data streams collected using the sensors. The goals of the unit are to help students understand why and how to assemble the sensor technologies to collect, analyze, and display large streams of information and internalize how the technologies support the transition of their role in STEM or science class from data collectors to producers of the data for their scientific investigations (Hardy et. al., 2020). This poster chronicles the implementation experience of five teachers who enacted the sensor immersion unit in the Fall of 2020 when their schools were engaged in synchronous remote instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will describe the different strategies used by teachers when students had access to the sensor kits at home and when they did not with regards to four main aspects of the unit: launching the unit, creating hand (or digitally) drawn models of the sensor technologies, supporting small group discussion, and building and programming the data displays. The poster highlights roadblocks encountered by teachers in remote instruction settings and how they were able to navigate them. The supports were modified from previous years to better align with remote learning including more researcher support in the classroom, increased frequency of shorter teacher workshops using Zoom, and the co-creation of a shared online resource library. These unique circumstances helped the team co-design additional resources to help both teachers and students learn the engineering and computational design process. The resources provide alternative methods for students to communicate and participate in the inquiry process and support learning through the creation of video and written materials to help students explore independently. Lessons learned during this era of remote learning are discussed in the context of how they help envision future middle school engineering learning spaces.

References Hardy, L., Dixon, C., Hsi, S. (2020). From data collectors to data producers: Shifting students’ relationship to data. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 29(1), 104-126.

Gendreau Chakarov, A., & Bush, J., & Biddy, Q. L., & Jacobs, J., & Recker, M., & Sumner, T. (2021, July), Supporting Teachers to Implement Engineering Design Challenges using Sensor Technologies in a Remote Classroom Environment Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37789

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