WISEngineering (http://www.wisengineering.org) is a free online learning environment that supports learning science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) concepts through engineering design projects. WISEngineering allows any interested learner to engage in rich design-based projects that provide real-world applications and relevance of STEM concepts.Students collaborate as they brainstorm ideas, create and test solutions, refine and retest their designs, and critique and share their projects. WISEngineering enables students to learn relevant content and skills in a just-in-time manner, and provides teachers and students with feedback and assessment results about student learning.
WISEngineering is a collaborative project with the University of Virginia and Hofstra University, and leverages the open-source Web-based Inquiry Science Environment (WISE) from the University of California, Berkeley. To access inquiry science projects, please visit http://wise4.berkeley.edu.
Standards-based: Each WISEngineering project targets specific national and state standards in mathematics and/or science and can be used to replace instruction. WISEngineering employs an informed engineering design and knowledge integration pedagogy, which facilitates learning through understanding and applying relevant knowledge and skills. Each project guides students to create solutions to open-ended engineering design problems that require students to apply specified STEM concepts and skills. Students engage in evaluating, revising, and reflecting upon their solutions through their design journals and portfolios.
STEM Engagement: By making STEM concepts relevant and useful through design projects, WISEngineering seeks to increase interest and engagement in STEM courses and careers. WISEngineering makes it possible for students in rural Virginia to design and build one component of a system, collaborate with students in urban New York on another component of a system, and then jointly design a comprehensive solution. A home-schooled child in California can work together on the same project team as a child in Maine.
Teacher Tools: WISEngineering uses the WISE platform, which allows teachers to virtually interact with students, provide feedback, and monitor student work using the suite of teacher tools. Teachers can grade student work, focusing on either an entire project or a particular step. The class dashboard allows teachers to view progress of an individual, a group of students, or an entire class. If teachers see particularly interesting work from certain students, they can check a box to anonymously flag the work and put it up on a class screen.
WISEngineering projects have been piloted with middle school learners in both informal and formal educational settings. Students demonstrate significant improvement in science and mathematical content understanding as evidenced by pre-test to post-test gains. Students in very low-performing school districts significantly outperformed similar students using traditional instruction on state standardized mathematics tests. Teacher and student self-reportsindicate that WISEngineeringprojects can promote collaboration, tolerance, and development of pro-social skills among many at-risk youth.
WISEngineering is currently being adapted to informal settings by running in Boys and Girls Clubs across two states. As part of the project with the Boys and Girls Clubs, WISEngineering has developed a tablet and smartphone-friendly app that enables students to easily take pictures and share their design projects.