Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia understands that global collaboration in education is a powerful tool for developing high-level communication skills and inventive thinking among STEM students. The Global Innovation in Science and Technology Project (GIST) will bring around 2,000 economically challenged students from three rural school divisions in Virginia together with peers in Ghana and India to work on projects in small teams.
Teachers in in Virginia, Ghana, and India have participated in professional development on integrating Scratch and Alice in teaching STEM content; teachers in Virginia and Ghana are integrating inquiry based learning using HP science kits. Students in each building collaboratively discussed a global problem and identified potential solutions. Teachers will create wikis for students across the school divisions to interact and collaborate with each other on global problems in the 2012-13 school year. The innovation initiative focused on motivating girls into computing and design; “design through inquiry” was piloted with a small group of girls by using the LilyPad Arduino. Implementation challenges resulted in creating design kits for girls and for teachers. We are in the process of developing video tutorials for LilyPad Arduino projects as well as step-by-step instructions. Video tutorials and step-by-step instructions on using Scratch and Kodu have been created. Teachers in Dinwiddie and Hopewell suggested the need for professional development and learning modules with assignments and timelines; teachers in Virginia also need portable devices such as an HP slate for student access. Our scale-up efforts will include: Learning modules for Scratch; Learning modules for Kodu; Learning modules for inquiry based learning; and Learning modules for integrating design and computing with LilyPad Arduino.
Findings & Achievements:
Teacher professional development
Teachers prefer face-to-face learning combined with online learning with timelines for completion of each project. Teachers who worked in grade-level collaborative teams were more effective in transforming learning for the students than the teachers who worked independently. Schools who provided the same planning period for HP teachers were more successful with STEM projects; and teachers in these schools found creative ways of integrating Scratch and inquiry based learning in their formal and informal classrooms. In two schools in Virginia, HP teachers have asked the administration for an elective class period to teach Scratch and Kodu to develop interest in computing among the students. We will be providing professional development for educators in South Africa on inquiry based learning in STEM instruction and integrating Scratch in teaching any content.
Student LearningGlobally, each student team chose a different global problem as compared to the teachers choices. During global collaborative discussions using ELGG, teachers initially thought that students would choose water conservation and water scarcity as global problems. However, students took a different turn. Dinwiddie students chose world hunger, agricultural supply, and environmental pollution. Students in Hopewell chose clean air and clean environment topics. For students in Amelia, drug abuse was a major concern. Students in India discussed corruption, poverty, and illiteracy. Teachers and students in Ghana wanted to invent a device for water purification. Challenge: Some student groups did not consider the engineering design criteria when they chose a problem. Teachers and students will continue working with their students and create a wiki space for all GIST participants to choose one global problem and work on an engineering design solution in the 2012-13 school year.
Girls in DesignIn encouraging girls to get into computing and STEM, we used the fashion design as a hook by allowing them to design bags, scarves, or a photo frame using a LilyPad microcontroller and LEDs. During the pilot, girls were frustrated for want of multiple colors of lights, additional LilyPads, and fabric paint. Therefore, HP GIST project staff has put together a student kit and a teacher kit for full implementation of one complete project. We also observed that it was difficult to get grade 6 girls to understand coding related to microcontrollers. Future implementation will be with grade 7 and 8 girls. This project will be difficult to sustain in the developing world due to the cost of the LilyPad Arduino board per project and so we are developing strategies to focus on computing and on devising a plan to recycle the same LilyPad for multiple projects.
Collaboration within Catalyst:
Agastya Foundation in India and University of Fort Hare
Outside of Catalyst
Amelia County Public Schools; Dinwiddie County Public Schools; Hopewell City Public Schools; New Life International School in Ghana; Leo Matriculation School in India; Old Dominion University’s Electrical Engineering Department; Longwood University; Southside Virginia Regional Technology Consortium
Please provide a network for us to connect with organizations that are committed to work with women and girls on STEM learning.