Design Squad is an NSF-funded digital hub for middle school children that includes (1) television episodes and short videos streamed on pbskids.org, (2) an online community of young engineers, and (3) hands-on engineering activities. Designed to increase children’s understanding of engineering, the Emmy and Peabody Award–winning television series follows two teams of teens as they design and build projects for real-world clients—from constructing cardboard furniture for IKEA to designing peanut butter makers for a women’s collective in Haiti.
The PBS TV series and website Design Squad, and its spin off series Design Squad Nation, are designed to get its viewers involved in engineering through an integrated media experience and grassroots outreach campaign. Design Squad is a reality competition series where six teenagers learn to think smart, build fast, and contend with a wild array of engineering challenges. With Design Squad Nation, engineer co-hosts Judy and Adam travel across the country, working side by side with kids to turn their dreams into reality. Our ultimate goal with both projects is to inspire viewers to take on their own hands-on engineering activities. To achieve this, developers have created an online community for user-generated content. In local communities, PBS has staged public events that get kids engaged in hands-on design challenges. And, through its outreach, PBS has provided approaches for modeling the design process with kids through trainings; educational resources; and support for teachers, engineers, and informal educators. A new project—Design Squad: Informal Pathways to Engineering—will use existing assets from Design Squad, along with new resources, as the vehicle for researching the diverse pathways children take while pursuing an interest in engineering. WGBH, in collaboration with Purdue University and Concord Evaluation Group (CEG), will conduct a qualitative, longitudinal study of 60 middle school children, representing a range of geographic, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, that will examine the ways in which informal engineering programs support (or fail to support) children’s engineering-related interests, outcome expectations, and self-efficacy.
The overall goal of this research project is to understand what it takes to support mathematics teachers in improving the quality of their mathematics instruction at the scale of large, urban US districts.The project has two major phases.The data we collect (in both phases) allow us to document (1) teachers’ instructional practices, visions of high-quality instruction, mathematical knowledge for teaching, and views of students’ mathematical capabilities; (2) mathematics coaches’ practices, visions of high-quality instruction, mathematical knowledge for teaching, and views of students’ mathematical capabilities; (3) school and district leaders’ instructional leadership practices, visions of high-quality instruction, and views of students’ mathematical capabilities; and (4) supports for teachers’, mathematics coaches’, and school leaders’development of effective practices (e.g., district professional development, interactions with more accomplished peers). In addition, we have access to district student achievement data.
Building upon previous collaborative work with small humanoid robots, this project is embarking on an ambitious new research project involving multiple adult-sized humanoids. There is an overwhelming disparity in terms of resources devoted to humanoids research in the United States versus research in other countries that have heavily invested in this area of robotics. The goal of this ambitious five-year project is to rapidly advance U.S. humanoid research by developing a common open platform. To date, all full-sized humanoids have been individual custom-made units, and advances made using one design do not necessarily translate to others. Currently, Drexel is the only institution in the United States that has HUBO, a world-class adult-sized humanoid developed at the Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology (KAIST), resulting from a prior NSF Partnership for International Research and Education (PIRE) award. Building upon the unique expertise developed at Drexel in assembling and maintaining HUBO, the proposed platform will significantly extend its current capabilities, resulting in six identical units. The project’s goal is to develop a new common platform (HUBO+) that will consist of the world’s first homogenous full-sized humanoid team, and each of the participating schools will have access to a HUBO+ unit to enhance their research efforts. The project partners include researchers at Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Ohio State, Purdue, U.Penn, USC, and Virginia Tech, representing a critical mass of humanoids research in the United States. Current humanoids are rarely autonomous and not ready for unconstrained interaction with humans. Having a consistent platform will facilitate rapid progress in areas needed for autonomy and natural interaction, including mobility, manipulation, vision, speech communication and cognition, and learning. Furthermore, humanoids research is inherently interdisciplinary and integrative, and catalyzes interest in engineering among younger students. The project’s outreach partners, including several high-profile museums, will introduce people of all ages to the technologies of robotics, particularly useful for recruiting K–12 students into science, engineering, and mathematics.
The Center for Aviation and Automotive Technology Education using Virtual E-Schools (CA2VES) is funded through the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (NSF ATE) program and represents a partnership among the Clemson University Center for Workforce Development, technical colleges, school districts, and local industry. During 2013, South Carolina’s manufacturing industry had more than 7,000 job openings, but many of these well-paying jobs went unfilled due to a lack of skills in the workforce. CA2VES’ mission is to advance aviation, automotive, and manufacturing technician education to support workforce preparedness and meet the advanced technology workforce needs of South Carolina’s anchor aviation and automotive businesses, industries, and suppliers.
The e-Mentoring for Student Success (eMSS) program for beginning science, math, and special education teachers was developed based on the New Teacher Center’s expertise, research and practitioner literature on professional development, online learning, and mentoring. eMSS offers a variety of science, math, and special education curriculum options for beginning teachers that are designed to support teachers’ immediate short-term needs, inquiry into teaching practice, and understanding of content. eMSS is a year-long program that emphasizes the key structural features of an effective mentoring program.
The mission of the EAST-2 Alliance is to increase the number and quality of students with disabilities who enroll and receive degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and ultimately enter STEM disciplines. EAST-2 achieves this mission by involving students, transforming the academic and professional environments in which they function, and catalyzing STEM activities in southern Maine. EAST-2 has designed a model that includes the creation of a pipeline of supports and services for high school and college students with disabilities as they successfully negotiate critical junctures. The EAST-2 pipeline focuses on undergraduate STEM research fellowships (URFs), mentoring and tutoring, weekly learning community events, accessible technologies, internships, individualized case management, high school summer STEM camps, transition services, and the development of capacity within high schools and the University of Southern Maine (USM) to fully support students with disabilities (SWD). Activities along our pipeline increase students’ confidence in their STEM learning and give them the opportunity to participate in life-changing experiences. The EAST-2 pipeline model serves to broaden the participation of students with disabilities in STEM fields.
Over the past decade, researchers in The Distributed Leadership Studies (DLS) at Northwestern University have been developing a framework for examining school leadership and management with an emphasis on their relations to classroom instruction. Drawing on theoretical and empirical work in distributed cognition and socio-cultural activity theory, our distributed perspective involves two aspects: principal plus and practice. The principal plus aspect acknowledges that the work of leading and managing schools involves multiple individuals. The practice aspect foregrounds the <i>practice</i> of leading and managing, framing this practice as emerging from the <i>interactions</i> among school leaders and followers, mediated by the situation in which the work occurs. Practice is more about interaction than action. At the same time, any effort to understand practice has to pay careful attention to social structure, both the immediate infrastructure of the school organization and the more distal infrastructure of the education system. The school subject–mathematics, science and language arts—has figured prominently in our efforts to build knowledge about and for the practice of leading and managing.
The Institute for P–12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE) at Purdue University carries out basic research, applied research, and evaluation on teacher professional development and student learning with engineering in formal and informal settings. Through a National Science Foundation Discovery Research K–12 (DR K–12) project, we have sought to investigate the impact of elementary engineering teacher professional development (TPD) on teachers’ and students’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors with regards to engineering. Our TPD has been delivered in the form of a one-week-long summer academy (~30 hours), a year of supported classroom implementation, a second three-day summer academy, and a second year of classroom implementation.
Engaging Youth through Engineering (EYE) is a partnership-driven K–12 economic development initiative underway in Mobile, Ala., that is spearheaded by a local nonprofit education entity in collaboration with a large urban school system, higher education, and area business and industry. Its purpose is to produce high school graduates eager and able to meet the growing demand for tech-savvy workers who are also innovative problem solvers. EYE uses engineering design challenges to bring practical relevance and rigor to K–12 math and science curricula. At the middle-grades level, local and National Science Foundation funding are enabling EYE to develop a set of integrated STEM instructional units, the EYE modules, to inspire and motivate all middle-grades students, especially those typically underrepresented in STEM, to take the high school courses needed in preparation for 21st century workforce needs. Each EYE Module is designed such that students use engineering practices and apply required mathematics and science content to develop solutions to relevant problems facing humans today, fostering the development of engineering “habits of mind.”
This project is funded by the National Science Foundation, grants # 0822241, 1449550, 1650648, and 1743807. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these materials are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.