Title

Engaging Students at Risk Through Robotics

First Presenter's Institution

Georgia Southern University

Second Presenter's Institution

Renaissance Jax, Inc

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Ballroom B

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance

This presentation relates to the HEAD: Academic Achievement and Leadership strand by explaining the current research on extracurricular STEM activities and their impact on marginalized student groups.

Brief Program Description

Specific Objective – to provide information about the importance of extracurricular STEM activities to help engage students with specific information about the benefits of after school robotics programs.

Topics – topics to be discussed will be the importance of STEM programming to our nation, the current literature on extracurricular STEM activities, and the benefits of and how to start an after school robotics program.

Target Audience – educators, parents, students, STEM professionals

Summary

Extracurricular activities have been associated with improved academic performance and psychosocial development (Durlak, Weissberg, & Pacan, 2010). Students who participate in after-school activities have been positively linked to higher grades, test scores, school value, school engagement, and educational aspirations (Fredricks & Eccles, 2008). Additionally, participants have positive psychological benefits such as higher self-esteem, psychological resiliency, and lower rates of depression (Fredricks & Eccles, 2008). Moreover, some studies show a link to after-school club participation and lower dropout rates, delinquency, and substance abuse levels (e.g., Eccles & Barber, 1999; Mahoney, 2000; Mahoney & Cairns, 1997).

Papert (1980) laid the groundwork for robotics in the classroom in the 1970s. Papert believed students gained a sense of power over technology because they could identify with concrete robots. Nourbakhsh and colleagues (2005) further stated students understand abstract concepts and gain a more functional level of understanding by testing scientific and mechanical principles with robots. Barker and Ansorge (2007) and Beer, Chiel, and Drushel (1999) found students come up with creative solutions to problems rather than recite answers they learned in a class by rote. Students who learn to engineer robots also learn about complex system interactions, which are important lessons for computer scientists, biologists, doctors, or anyone who will need to understand complex systems (Beer et al., 1999).

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) is a program where teams of students from kindergarten through twelfth grade compete as a team to design, build, and program robots (USFIRST.org, 2016). Leaders at FIRST have a history of including students who are at risk due to the overarching theme of gracious professionalism where students are rewarded for helping each other, as well as other teams. Diversity within FIRST is valued by FIRST staff, coaches, mentors and volunteers. As a result, all students are welcome and encouraged to join teams.

The presentation will include testimonials of students at risk who have participated in FIRST robotics as well as mentors and teachers who have coached the teams. Information on how to start a team will be provided.

Evidence

The proposal is based on research on the achievement gap in STEM areas for students at risk as well as longitudinal studies on the effectiveness of STEM programs like FIRST robotics.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Karin Fisher, PhD is an assistant professor at Georgia Southern University. She is a former FIRST robotics coach. Her dissertation was on the correlation between the number of after school STEM programs offered in a district and the performance of students with disabilities on the 8th grade Florida Science Assessment.

Over the past twelve years, Mark McCombs has been a part of FIRST Robotics as a student on a high school team, as a college mentor, a head coach, volunteer, tournament director, and now Affiliate Partner for FIRST Lego League in the North Florida Region. As a student in the program, Mark was profoundly impacted by mentors and engineering idols who turned his curiosities towards the field of Mechanical Engineering. Now the founder of a machine design, engineering, and fabrication company, McCombs spends most of his time working on Renaissance Jax, a nonprofit he founded with the mission of expanding access to the very program that shaped his experiences as a young engineer.

Keyword Descriptors

STEM, Robotics, Students at risk, extracurricular

Presentation Year

2017

Start Date

3-8-2017 11:15 AM

End Date

3-8-2017 12:30 PM

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Mar 8th, 11:15 AM Mar 8th, 12:30 PM

Engaging Students at Risk Through Robotics

Ballroom B

Specific Objective – to provide information about the importance of extracurricular STEM activities to help engage students with specific information about the benefits of after school robotics programs.

Topics – topics to be discussed will be the importance of STEM programming to our nation, the current literature on extracurricular STEM activities, and the benefits of and how to start an after school robotics program.

Target Audience – educators, parents, students, STEM professionals