This is an abstract for a work-in-progress paper at the First Year Engineering Experience conference. Engineering (times) Community Engaged Learning, Education Research, Aeropod Technology, and Empowerment is a 3 year service-learning project that will begin in the Summer of 2019. This paper presents the structure of the project and curriculum to begin a conversation about how service-learning can be leveraged in formal and informal settings. The article presents the strategy for teaching of STEM to first-year undergraduate engineering students and pre-service teachers through kite-based instrumentation payloads called Aeropods. The project is a collaboration between engineering and education at SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY and NASA.
During each academic year, engineering students will take engineering design classes to develop Aeropods, supporting tools, and educational experiences for Novice Math and/or Science Teachers (NMSTs). A subset of these students will then work collaboratively with real NMSTs during a 3-week, summer, service-learning-based outreach program targeting high school students. NMSTs that complete the outreach program will use the technologies and experience gained during the summer to help teach STEM concepts in formal classroom settings. As a result, the outreach program functions as a training and incubator of ideas so engineering students get a more realistic STEM learning experience and teachers are in the best position to be successful facilitating activities in their own classrooms. A project-based service-learning framework will be used to assess the impact of the project on both populations’ mindset and skills with each population reflecting on how the collaboration increases learning.
Central to the program is Aeropod technology and mission protocols for data acquisition which were invented at Wallops Island Goddard Space Flight Center for earth science research as a low cost and logistically simpler alternative to traditional unmanned aerial systems. Faculty from SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY helped to develop the technology and undergraduate curriculum as members of the AREN network (NASA AWARD) who’s mission in part is to adapt the Aeropod technology for educational purposes. A primary strength of the Aeropod is accessibility of a meaningful and comprehensive STEM education experiences for students of all ages. The program will also produce strategies for STEM curriculum that can be replicated at other institutions through use of the Aeropod technology. Examples of educational materials for teachers also will provide resources for educators looking to infuse STEM lessons into their classrooms.
The AREN project itself only develops the learning tools and stops short of exploring the impact of the developed technology on learning or mindset. The research approach is also presented providing details on how learning and engineering identity development might be assessed.
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