Building Automation and IoT as a Platform for Introducing STEM Education in K-12
There is growing concern in the United States about the lack of interest and aptitude in science, math and, in particular, technology and engineering disciplines. Certainly one reason for this could be the lack of true engineering experiences available to students when they are in junior high and high school. This is in part due to the fact that while most teachers are well versed in math and science through their formal education, very few have experience and/or educational backgrounds in engineering and technology.
To promote STEM careers, a partnership among university engineering faculty, practicing engineers, and secondary schools is necessary; it is important to demonstrate to young potential STEM professionals the relevance of STEM activities. In addition to interacting with practicing professionals, authentic experiential learning activities for students in secondary education can promote STEM careers. Recently, the authors were awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant as part of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to develop such partnerships and activities.
As part of this ITEST project, the fields of building automation, internet of things, and additive manufacturing was chosen as the focus area for all planned activities. This work-in progress paper will present the ongoing work for this project, including the concept of using building automation to introduce teachers and students to STEM concepts, a novel summer workshop for secondary education teachers, the development of a simple building automation platform that can be deployed in secondary education classrooms, and the development of educational partnerships with industry to introduce and excite secondary education students about the STEM opportunities.