Build IT Underwater Robotics Scale Up for STEM Learning and Workforce Development (BISU)
Thousands of middle and high school youth in five U.S. geographic regions implemented the underwater robotics curriculum, WaterBotics, in both classroom and out-of-school time settings led by hundreds of trained STEM teachers and informal educators.
This "scale-up" project uses engineering as well as science to bring engineering experiences to underrepresented communities. The investigators will build under water robots, create social networks, and produce a webcast. This project is based on evidence gained from a previous ITEST Strategies grant (ESI-0624709) that showed that an underwater robotics curriculum can increase student learning of science and engineering concepts, their practice of 21st century skills such as problem-solving and collaboration, their enjoyment of science, and their engineering career interest. The goal of the project is to create and assess an adaptable scale-up model that enables the participation of underserved audiences (female, minority and low status youth) in intensive, experiential STEM learning, acquisition of 21st century skills, and increased engineering career awareness and interest. The project will expand the existing design and implementation of the previous project. Also, it will provide a rigorous test of the research and theory based model in new environments and will also expand the innovation to cover additional scope within STEM workforce. The project will be initiated in four new regions (hub sites) by working with well-established partners whose K-12 programming engages girls and underserved youth in informal education environments, while expanding an in-school implementation model. Some of the project enhancements include increased use of IT and cyberinfrastructure, and an advanced systems engineering challenge to expand the scope of the curricular innovation itself. Students and educators use of cyberlearning tools will be developed well beyond the scope of the current Strategies project, through: (a) an annual national virtual underwater robotics competition; (b) incorporation of social networking tools and webcasting technologies into curricula and professional development to create a cyber learning community among youth, educators, and STEM researchers; and, (c) the virtualization of current face-to-face student meetings with STEM researchers and professionals through the creation of a digital video library designed to expose students to exciting STEM and IT applications in the real world and to serve as career exemplars, featuring women and minority researchers.