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University And Urban High Schools Team To Use Lego Robots To Teach Physics

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Enhancing K-12 STEM Education with Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1299.1 - 15.1299.16



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Paper Authors


Virginia Westheider University of Cincinnati

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Virginia Westheider is Academic Director for Assessment and Accreditation in the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) at the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio

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Patrick Brown University of Cincinnati

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Patrick Brown is program coordinator for National Science Foundation (NSF) Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCUC) for Intelligent Maintenance Systems (IMS) under Dr. Jay Lee at the College of Engineering and Applied Science, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract



Under a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experience for Teachers1, project leaders a the University of Cincinnati, College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) recruited six high school science and math teachers teaching in low income urban schools. The schools that were selected had less than $200 per school year for equipment and the classes were usually 26- 30 students. Some of the goals of this RET effort were to provide a better understanding of the role of engineers in industry and society, expose teachers to university research and its application in industry, and promote engineering and STEM careers among high school students by engaging them in hands-on events and activities.

This Research Experience for Teachers (RET) was a year-long project of two parts. The first part was a summer research experience in which the teachers came to the campus for three hours each day for six weeks in the summer. They studied readings focused on active learning and how the teachers could use some of the strategies learned in their own math and science classes. Classes were held on the university campus in the College of Engineering lab sponsoring the experience, the NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/ICRC) on Intelligent Maintenance Systems IMS. The focus of the experience in this lab was active learning using sensors such as the ones in Lego Robots to encourage learning and interest in science by using familiar objects. During this summer experience the teachers designed activities for their students that would be used during the school year. They developed classes that included using sensors in Lego Robots but not only in the robots but in many areas of everyday life.

The Lego Robots used in the physics lab projects had a familiar component for the students, most of whom have had experiences playing with Lego toys. The added use of the computer to program the robots was designed to broaden their experience in technical science. The projects were geared toward finding ways to attract more students to STEM careers, and to the advanced science classes needed to prepare for these careers. We observed enough enthusiasm for the project to conclude that all students derived benefit from it. The sample size was too small to draw statistical conclusions about the effect of the project on the choice of careers of the members of the class, but their attitudes stayed positive, as measured by the attitude surveys. The project provided experience in problem solving in a three-dimensional way that is different than traditional paper-and-pencil problem solving, since it requires planning, application of concepts, testing, evaluating, and re-testing. This process is a good example of the types of skills and processes the STEM fields require.

Westheider, V., & Brown, P. (2010, June), University And Urban High Schools Team To Use Lego Robots To Teach Physics Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16925

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