Fly High Your Math and Science Skills
This project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase students' motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) by engaging in hands-on field experience, laboratory/project-based entrepreneurship tasks and mentorship experiences.
This Tuskegee University ITEST project will use flight simulation as an active learning tool to motivate and engage 75 students in grades 7-8 in learning and reinforcing various math and science concepts. The project also involves training 15 middle school teachers to incorporate innovative, active, and experiential learning techniques while teaching STEM concepts. The project uses commercial-off-the-shelf flight simulation software that is low cost and has excellent fidelity of the physics of the phenomenon. The objectives of this project are: (a) to motivate and train middle school teachers to incorporate innovative, active, and experiential learning techniques while teaching STEM concepts; (b) to improve the overall ability of students in solving STEM problems; and, (c) to improve the attitudes of teachers and students towards teaching and learning STEM concepts.
The project team, consisting of faculty from mathematics, aerospace engineering, mathematics education and an instructional designer (consultant), will develop learning modules for 7th and 8th grade students based on the Alabama Course of Study and Next Generation Science Standards using a flight simulation environment. They will design and implement intervention strategies for increasing student engagement and subsequently their understanding of selected math and science concepts through three components: (1) a one-week professional development workshop for the math and science teachers; (2) a one-week summer camp for grade 7-8 students; and (3) the implementation of the approach by the teachers in their classrooms. The overall goal is to determine if an innovative learning approach supported by popular technology impact the learning of mathematics and science concepts. The research questions are: (a) Does a hands-on activity that is a physics-based simulation and not a "twitch video game" engage middle school students in learning math and science concepts? (b) Does a summer program such as proposed in this project enhance the self-efficacy of middle school students in math and science? (c) Are female students as engaged as male students in a flight simulator based learning environment and (d) Do math and science teachers of a rural school district accept and implement a technology mediated pedagogy such as the flight simulation-based approach? The evaluation plan will use a logic model to assess project activities. The intervention will be evaluated through several pre-post instruments that will include the assessment of math and science content knowledge during the summer program, their attitudes towards math and science, and self-efficacy.