From Grade School to Grad School: An Integrated STEM Pipeline Model through Robotics

From Grade School to Grad School: An Integrated STEM Pipeline Model through Robotics

Ross A. Mead (University of Southern California, USA), Susan L. Thomas (SIU Edwardsville, USA) and Jerry B. Weinberg (SIU Edwardsville, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0182-6.ch015
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The STEM pipeline is an often-used analogy for efforts to increase the number of people entering the critical areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The analogy references the attempt to get young students into the educational conduit and have them emerge from the other end as professionals with graduate and post-graduate degrees. Much like the trans-Alaskan pipeline that is 800 miles long and has 11 major pumping stations, the educational conduit needs to have its own entrance points and activities that keep the contents flowing. The authors present a model of a pipeline program based on the results of research work examining the impact of robotics competitions on students’ self-perceptions for success in STEM. The model has a unique component of employing older students as informal role models along with formal adult mentors, providing a self-perpetuating cycle in the pipeline.
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I want to be on this robotics group because I think that girls should have a chance to do things that we wouldn’t normally get to do. I also think that it would be really cool to do something like this without my brother, because I do almost everything with him. I also would like to do this because I think robots are pretty cool and I think that it would be fun to try it out. I have never done anything like this before, so I don’t really know if I’m that good at it. — Isadora, 7th grade participant

This essay was written to answer a call for participants from a middle school science teacher of a public school who was forming a team to compete in a robotics tournament. Isadora expressed exceptionally well the importance of hands-on engagement in creating a pipeline of students into STEM careers: “I have never done anything like this before, so I don’t really know if I’m that good at it.” Why do any of us choose to engage in the activities that we do? Particularly, how do we choose these activities at an early age when we begin to develop a self-image that leads to career choices? Our choices are based largely on our self-belief that we have an ability to be successful. We must have some idea or self-perception that we can succeed at the activities in which we engage. This is the essence of self-efficacy, a belief that we can successfully perform a behavior to achieve a desired outcome or goal (Bandura, 1977). Of course, we also must perceive that there is worth in attaining the goal. For children the sense of worth in a goal comes primarily from external influences, specifically recognition from parents, teachers, mentors, and peers. Self-efficacy and worthiness of goals are the two key components of achievement-related choices—choosing activities we feel we can attain and we find worth in attaining (for example, Eccles, 1994; Wigfield & Eccles, 2000).

How do we help Isadora believe that she has the ability and interest to be a successful person in a STEM career? From an achievement-related choices perspective, we create a series of STEM activities that engage her interest, develop her abilities and skills, provide opportunities for success, create a sense of future success, and support her interest through recognition. In this chapter, we describe how to develop this belief through a self-perpetuating robotics pipeline model that is a result of cooperation between K-12 and post-secondary educators. The effectiveness of such a robotics pipeline is supported by our own empirical studies of robotics activities and achievement-related choices.

The pipeline begins engagement of interest in the early grades (see Figure 1). Activities start to take on a deliberate educational focus at the “age of reason”, the 6 to 8 year old range, where children begin to link their behaviors to their beliefs (Davis-Kean, Huesmann, Collins, Bates, & Lansford, 2008). The first hallmark of the pipeline is the recruitment of participation from one major point to the next. This creates a perpetuation of the pipeline. It also provides an important opportunity for children to envision future success. Children tend to watch people five to six years older than themselves and model their behavior (Jenkins, 2006). An example of this can be seen in the appeal of American Idol where 50% of the audience are 13 year olds watching 18 to 20 year olds (Hammack, 2010). This effect is an important component of the pipeline as younger children can observe the activities of role models just three to five years older than themselves.

Figure 1.

Overview of the STEM pipeline

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Clayton C. Anderson
Bradley S. Barker, Gwen Nugent, Neal Grandgenett, Viacheslav I. Adamchuk
Bradley S. Barker, Gwen Nugent, Neal Grandgenett, Viacheslav I. Adamchuk
Chapter 1
Amy Eguchi
Educational robotics is a growing field with “the potential to significantly impact the nature of engineering and science education at all levels... Sample PDF
Educational Robotics Theories and Practice: Tips for how to do it Right
Chapter 2
Kristen Stubbs, Jennifer Casper, Holly A. Yanco
While a large number of robotics programs for K-12 students have been developed and deployed in the past twenty years, the effect that these... Sample PDF
Designing Evaluations for K-12 Robotics Education Programs
Chapter 3
Carl A. Nelson
This chapter aims to present guidelines, suggestions, and ideas for designing educational robotics programs, which help participants generate skills... Sample PDF
Generating Transferable Skills in STEM through Educational Robotics
Chapter 4
G. Barbara Demo, Michele Moro, Alfredo Pina, Javier Arlegui
In this chapter, the authors describe an inquiry-based science education (IBSE) theoretical framework as it was applied to robotics activities... Sample PDF
In and out of the School Activities Implementing IBSE and Constructionist Learning Methodologies by Means of Robotics
Chapter 5
Neal Grandgenett, Elliott Ostler, Neal Topp, Robert Goeman
Some of the best learning may occur in the context of a problem, whether in life or in the formal educational classroom. This chapter focuses on the... Sample PDF
Robotics and Problem-Based Learning in STEM Formal Educational Environments
Chapter 6
Ronald Rockland, Howard Kimmel, John Carpinelli, Linda S. Hirsch, Levelle Burr-Alexander
Medibotics, the merging of medicine, robotics, and Information Technology, is a program that uses LEGO™ Mindstorms for school kits with NXT software... Sample PDF
Medical Robotics in K-12 Education
Chapter 7
Elisabeth McGrath, Susan Lowes, Mercedes McKay, Jason Sayres, Peiyi Lin
The underwater environment presents novel challenges that can facilitate unique learning experiences for students engaged in robotics programs.... Sample PDF
Robots Underwater! Learning Science, Engineering and 21st Century Skills: The Evolution of Curricula, Professional Development and Research in Formal and Informal Contexts
Chapter 8
Marina U. Bers, Alyssa B. Ettinger
This chapter presents a research program that uses robotics as a powerful tool to engage Kindergarten children in developing computational thinking... Sample PDF
Programming Robots in Kindergarten to Express Identity: An Ethnographic Analysis
Chapter 9
Gwen Nugent, Bradley S. Barker, Neal Grandgenett
This chapter discusses findings from a National Science Foundation (NSF) project funded by the Innovative Technologies Experiences for Student and... Sample PDF
The Impact of Educational Robotics on Student STEM Learning, Attitudes, and Workplace Skills
Chapter 10
John Y. Baker
The purpose of this chapter is to illustrate the usefulness of cultural-historical activity theory in understanding how context mediates youth... Sample PDF
The Mediating Role of Context in an Urban After-School Robotics Program: Using Activity Systems to Analyze and Design Robust STEM Learning Environments
Chapter 11
Kimberley Gomez, Debra Bernstein, Jolene Zywica, Emily Hamner
In this chapter the authors focus on the opportunities for youth to engage in technical design through participation in two different afterschool... Sample PDF
Building Technical Knowledge and Engagement in Robotics: An Examination of two Out-of-School Programs
Chapter 12
Ronda K. Cole
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education has come to the forefront as national and state leaders look for ways to foster... Sample PDF
STEM Outreach with the Boe-Bot®
Chapter 13
Fred G. Martin, Michelle Scribner-MacLean, Sam Christy, Ivan Rudnicki
The University of Massachusetts Lowell and a non-profit partner, Machine Science Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts have developed a Web-based... Sample PDF
Developing and Evaluating a Web-Based, Multi-Platform Curriculum for After-School Robotics
Chapter 14
Viacheslav Adamchuk, Bradley S. Barker, Gwen Nugent, Neal Grandgenett, Megan Patent-Nygren, Collin Lutz, Kathy Morgan
In the increasingly modern and technological world, it has become common to use global navigation satellite system (GNSS), such as Global... Sample PDF
Learning Geospatial Concepts as Part of a Non-Formal Education Robotics Experience
Chapter 15
Ross A. Mead, Susan L. Thomas, Jerry B. Weinberg
The STEM pipeline is an often-used analogy for efforts to increase the number of people entering the critical areas of science, technology... Sample PDF
From Grade School to Grad School: An Integrated STEM Pipeline Model through Robotics
Chapter 16
Jeffrey Rosen, Fred Stillwell, Marion Usselman
The objective of robotics competitions, such as FIRST LEGO® League (FLL®), is to create a tournament that promotes high-level engineering and... Sample PDF
Promoting Diversity and Public School Success in Robotics Competitions
Chapter 17
Stephanie Ludi
Engaging students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is of particular interest to educators at all levels. Participation in... Sample PDF
Educational Robotics and Broadening Participation in STEM for Underrepresented Student Groups
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