1. Christopher Whitmer
  2. STTR Phase I:Engineering Design Instruction Software for implementing Objectives of Next (EDISON) Generation Standards in K-12
  3. http://parametricstudioinc.com
  4. Parametric Studio Inc.
  1. Mollie Appelgate
  2. Assistant Professor
  3. STTR Phase I:Engineering Design Instruction Software for implementing Objectives of Next (EDISON) Generation Standards in K-12
  4. http://parametricstudioinc.com
  5. Iowa State University
  1. Christa Jackson
  2. Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education
  3. STTR Phase I:Engineering Design Instruction Software for implementing Objectives of Next (EDISON) Generation Standards in K-12
  4. http://parametricstudioinc.com
  5. Iowa State University
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Christopher Whitmer

    Christopher Whitmer

    Presenter
    May 14, 2017 | 09:35 p.m.

    Greetings!  On behalf of our team at Parametric Studio and Iowa State University, I would like to welcome you to our project video for EDISON. 

         EDISON is equal parts STEM curricula, engineering design and simulation platform, and constructivist game.  Students carryout virtual missions designing hobby scale projects to assist their game character.  They apply engineering design, model their problems using math and science virtually, simulate their creations, and iterate on their virtual designs before either exporting them to a 3-D printer or to paper templates for real world construction and testing.

     

         This project is just nearing the end of its first phase and we now have a fully functional prototype and curricula for bridge and RC-scale car design that we have been extensively testing in Middle School classrooms.  In creating EDISON our team has sought to target 4 key objectives:

     

         1) Engineering standards are now present for all middle school students. And our team has sought to address engineering standards and engineering design instruction for all students with flexible and accurate engineering tools with numerous types/modes of design.

     

         2) Engineering is multidisciplinary and as such can be a powerful tool for targeting math, science, and literacy standards. In EDISON our team strives to implement this approach to STEM through cross disciplinary engineering design projects, integrated curricular components, and effective and pervasive use of engineering modelling.

     

         3) In the real-world engineering is a team sport. So, it was important that we provide a collaborative environment that fosters communication and facilitates contributions from all team members.

     

         4) Time is always a key problem for educators. Therefore, our team has designed EDISON to minimize the impact of implementing engineering on: instruction time (using virtual design tools), preparation time (with embedded evaluation tools, game-based learning, scaffolded instruction, and integrated tutorial content), and on PD time (by keeping the interfaces, strategies, and environments of the platform the same.  In other words learn it once and then use it over and over).

     

         We are very excited about the project and our results and hope to reach a lot of students with EDISON to help inspire the next generation of problem solvers, scientists, and engineers. 

     

         We look forward to:

    --Sharing our passion for STEM education;

    --Answering any questions you may have about EDISON;

    --Connecting with organizations and people interested in implementing EDISON;

    --And interacting with others interested in STEM education just like you.  

     

    Talk to you soon!  

     

    Chris Whitmer,

    CTO, Parametric Studio

    www.parametricstudioinc.com

    @ParametricSTDIO

    https://www.facebook.com/ParametricStudioInc/

     
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  • Icon for: Marion Usselman

    Marion Usselman

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 15, 2017 | 06:25 p.m.

    Very interesting product.  Are the physical bridge-building activities part of the curriculum and closely integrated with the software?  In your bridge-building curriculum, what percent of the time is on the computer vs. building and testing physical objects?

     
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    Michael Stone
  • Icon for: Christopher Whitmer

    Christopher Whitmer

    Presenter
    May 15, 2017 | 06:59 p.m.

    Thank-you.  The physical bridge building activities are part of the curriculum and are the physical test build part of the capstone challenge.  Typically in a module (bridge design is one of several - RC cars, gliders being others) the curriculum is structured loosely as follows  

         

         1) Small hands-on activities and research activities are utilized to assist the students in building models that use particular math concepts or scientific phenomena.  These are directly tied to standards and will form a piece of the design and analysis process used in the larger capstone design challenge.

     

         2) Students utilize the EDISON software environment to conduct virtual testing, undertake a mini-design challenge, or to collect virtual test data to build and refine models for the bridge.  Say for instance how trusses behave, how materials fail, what effect cross sections and their shapes have on design. 

     

         3) Students encorporate and build on these models to formulate their final design problem, conceptualize solutions, conduct analysis, and then iteratively prototype, test, and refine their designs.  

     

         4)  Finally students export their virtually refined designs for 3-D printing, or hand construction and testing in the real world, and may if time permits refine the design using this information.

     

    So the mixture is about 20% setup activities for helping to formulate models, 60% software activities where they apply these concepts in design and iteration, and 20% physical prototyping and testing of the final designs.  The software is the facilitator for deeper exploration and understanding as they can make countless iterations not only their designs but also on their descriptions of how they should behave (their models).

     
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  • Icon for: Michael Stone

    Michael Stone

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2017 | 01:10 p.m.

    Thank you for the answer to Marion's question. That helped provide a better context for how EDISON is actually implemented with students.

    I'm curious to know if you have had an opportunity to test this in a school that already has the infrastructure to implement fully integrated PBL. EDISON seems like a wonderful solution to add practicality and constructivist approaches to middle school math and physical science concepts. While you spoke to the potential of EDISON to teach engineering as a trans-disciplinary subject, have you observed measurable impacts on students' science and math competencies?

     
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  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2017 | 01:24 p.m.

    I'd also like to know about measurable impacts.

     
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  • Icon for: Christopher Whitmer

    Christopher Whitmer

    Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 03:25 p.m.

    Tried to answered both your and Michael's question below 

     
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  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2017 | 01:24 p.m.

    Very neat project. I see lots of possibilities in this for fostering learning of math and science, but I don't know a lot about the curriculum itself. Please tell us about the curriculum and the pedagogy. (1) I wonder what research and know-how inform the design of the curriculum and pedagogy. (2) I wonder, too, what is built into the pedagogy so that you are making sure kids are learning disciplinary content along with having a good time and building things that work and working together in teams. (I can make some suggestions if you want them; so can Marion who commented above. ;-)) 

     
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  • Icon for: Christa Jackson

    Christa Jackson

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2017 | 07:01 a.m.

    Thanks, Janet for your question. The curriculum is grounded in the Common Core Mathematics Standards (both content and the standards for mathematical practice) and the Next Generation Science Standards (science and engineering content, science practices, and cross-cutting concepts). The curriculum is designed so the students learn the mathematics, science, and engineering content as they engage in the hand-on activities with and outside the EDISON environment. The pedagogy focuses on building students' understanding on compression, tension, and force while at the same time learning about geometric shapes, coordinate plane, ordered pairs, area, and volume.

     
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  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2017 | 12:49 p.m.

    I'm not sure you answered my question, Christa. The pedagogy includes the way teachers will carry things out in the classrooms. The software gives kids experiences that afford learning, and I like all the activities very much. Saying that you are grounding in Common Core Mathematics and NGSS tells me about the content you are targeting but not how you are helping the kids go from having experiences to learning from their experiences. What does learning from their experiences look like? What is done in the activities themselves that fosters reflection on what they are doing and making sense? What do you kinds of reflective activities do you expect teachers to facilitate so that students learn from the activities? 

     

    There's significant research on how to foster learning from design activities; I'd like to see you guys become more familiar with that literature and to use it to inform scaffolding in the software, PD for the teachers, and design of activities in the classroom so that kids will actually learn all the things they could learn from these rich activities.

     
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  • Icon for: Marion Usselman

    Marion Usselman

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 16, 2017 | 03:00 p.m.

    I agree with Janet's questions.  also, how long does the bridge building unit take to complete?

     
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  • Icon for: Christopher Whitmer

    Christopher Whitmer

    Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 03:36 p.m.

    The bridge unit is flexible, and has a number of lessons that may also be included time permitting.  The minimal curricula can be done in about 2 weeks of standard class periods.  An in depth version using all the lessons and tie-ins might take 4 weeks.  What we are testing now is somewhere in between at three weeks.  

     
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  • Icon for: Christopher Whitmer

    Christopher Whitmer

    Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 03:07 p.m.

    Thanks Michael and Janet for your questions.  I'm sorry for the delay today in responding but we are actually in the classroom right now with 120 6th grade students, in the final week (capstone design challenge) of the 3 week module.  I will address that first question quickly and then my co-presentors Dr. Jackson and Dr. Appelgate can fill in more details regarding the curriculum and pedagogy.  

     

    The first phase of the project (prototyping, and development of curricula and software) is still ongoing until July.  We have been testing in schools thus far in math and science classrooms with a traditional instructional pedagogy.  So thus far we have not been in school with a fully integrated PBL approach.  This is actually by design, since we want to test the feasibility, implementability, and impact of implementing EDISON in traditional math and science classrooms.  In future testing we are interested in testing with fully integrated PBL schools and STEM schools.  

     
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  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2017 | 12:55 p.m.

    I'm not sure what a traditional instructional pedagogy is, but I am sure that a traditional instructional pedagogy is a rather poor match to learning from these kinds of activities. THe activities get the kids ready to wonder about all kinds of things, register their surprise and awe, grapple, and make sense, and to do those things around what they have experienced. Whatever traditional instructional pedagogy is, it isn't about going with the flow or even about directing the flow. Like I wrote to Crista above, I'd like to see you guys work with imaginative teachers to design pedagogy along with design of the software and activities and to be informed by what we know about fostering learning from design to do that. Tools and activities are as good as the way they are used. You've got a winner here in terms of the experiences kids can have and the learning afforded by those experiences; I want you to consider the full package needed to make it successful -- successful with respect to the kids' deep understanding of targeted content and masterful capabilities in carrying out practices, not simply successful at keeping their attention better than traditional instruction. 

     
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  • Icon for: Christopher Whitmer

    Christopher Whitmer

    Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 03:23 p.m.

    In response to your second question about measurable impacts for this project we are still collecting our data.  We are looking at several things including:  Improvements in math and science content knowledge, mastery and understanding of the Engineering Design Process, STEM efficacy, as well as general usability and product use questions (for software refinement).  

    Preliminary results look good.  This study is similar to one we conducted in the Fall with 4th graders where we looked at essentially the same things.  For this study and short 6 week duration in the class we were showing sizable and statistically significant improvements in STEM content knowledge pre-to-post (which were roughly equivalent to a full letter grade) 

     
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  • Icon for: Chris Thorn

    Chris Thorn

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2017 | 12:23 a.m.

    In addition to the outcomes in STEM knowledge, I'm wondering about the impact of the social organization of the work - teamwork, relevant tasks, a combination of rich conceptual challenges with real world enactment of a solution. This has many of the features of an approach to would help reinforce a sense of belonging and personal meaning. This seems like the sort of approach that also yield higher engagement. Do you have any direct measures there? I'm thinking about the application of this approach in upper grades were we often see women and minority students begin to disengage with STEM work. Do you believe you might see down steam positive effects around persistence of traditionally underrepresented students in more traditional classrooms?

     
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  • Icon for: Christopher Whitmer

    Christopher Whitmer

    Presenter
    May 17, 2017 | 03:32 p.m.

    Hi Chris that is a great question.  

    The short answer is we have not looked at the impact of team work directly yet outside of verifying teams can effectively use the software tools for collaborative design workflow, communication, and project reporting in the EDISON.  At this stage in the project we are predominately using this information for software and UX development/refinement, and are trying to identify where the issues with the UI's and tools arise so that they can be redesigned.  Part of the next phase of this effort would use these refined prototypes to examine questions like the one you are raising.

     

    A little context.  This is is a phase I STTR effort which is a 6 month grant where we focus on development of a proof of concept prototype both software and curricula.  In this initial phase we have a large focus our evaluation on outcomes in STEM knowledge, and with another large focus on implementability/usability of the software in the classroom. The scope of these initial investigations is somewhat narrow by necessity, and because the nature of an STTR grant is product development focused.  Then pending the results of initial testing and the state and direction of the commercial product we are to develop we may be awarded a second phase.  In this second phase we would be conducting numerous iterative refinement cycles of the software and the curricula.  We would also be looking at more fundamental research questions (like your original question) and testing in more types of environments.

     

     
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  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2017 | 12:57 p.m.

    Very good question, and I want to urge you (the PIs) to take advantage of what you are seeing in the teamwork and sense making that is going on in designing the reflection and sense-making activities that go with all the design. We can point you towards some literature on how to do that (some of it my papers, just to be honest about things).

     
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  • Icon for: Christopher Whitmer

    Christopher Whitmer

    Presenter
    May 17, 2017 | 04:05 p.m.

    Absolutely, appreciate the feedback and am always interested in helpful suggestions so point away!   

     

    As you might have guessed I am an engineer, so I like to talk about what we are building, and the process by which that is happening :).  From a tool perspective we are designing many of the capabilities to facilitate these reflection and sense making activities.

    For example we have designed and are testing a virtual design logbook tool.  It is contained within EDISON and has a group and private channels to facilitate personal reflection, and group communication.  This feature is actually much more than a notebook though.  It contains archived design iterates, associated data/plots, analysis models, personal notes of course, chats and with teammates, and any screen captures from anywhere in the tool.

     

    In the current curriculum students are asked to utilize this feature in their group activities (as posts are shared) as a means of trading ideas and working collaboratively, and at the end of explorations and design mini-challenges students are asked to reflect on what things they found in their EDISON exploration, and how this will impact their designs, their testing, or their models they are using to analyze the designs.  With the goal being they start to build up and improve on the models (like a cost model, or a failure model) used to analyze their design.  Then toward the end of the unit they utilize their improved understanding, and their suite of built up models (math and science not physical) to evaluate concepts and design iterates of their overarching final design challenge.

    In terms of sense making activities many of the ones currently in the curriculum are exercises that build the understanding/intuition about the engineering models (i.e. this ultimately boils down to an equation, computational model, or an algorithm/procedure) that they will need to develop to create and evaluate their designs.  Here is an example.  Students conduct a physical 3 point test to determine a material's strength (before breaking) we use several types of material, several types of cross section, and several sizes.  They get test results and while some trends are obvious there are some other results which are more difficult to make sense of immediately after the test (they need to isolate impacts of the parameters, and also standardize the testing conditions first).  Then we have them conduct a 3-point test in EDISON to isolate independent parameter impacts.  This becomes easier because each virtual test can be done in 10 sec rather than 5 min.  At the end of this process they are asked to examine and revise their conclusions from the physical testing with the mountain of virtual test data to support these conclusions.  As a final activity we ask them to use this new found knowledge to design a beam that will behave a certain way (i.e.use the models they have just created) 

     
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  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2017 | 03:55 p.m.

    Very exciting that you are keeping it all authentic to what the kids are engaged in doing -- engineering design. It is amazing how well the practices of design engineering afford the reflection and sense making needed for learning!!! I'd be happy to make some additional suggestions off-line about literature you might look at to take it all even farther. Great work!!

     
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  • Icon for: Christopher Whitmer

    Christopher Whitmer

    Presenter
    May 18, 2017 | 05:06 p.m.

    Thanks Janet!  We agree and feel like one of the areas that EDISON really adds rich STEM connections is its emphasis on model based design.  Modern engineering design (in academia and industry) is systems based and heavily leverages model based design.  This allows extensive usage of computational tools for analysis and optimization.  In such a framework the engineering design process is largely about formulating the algorithms and models that describe your design problem.  So, much of the synthesis portion of engineering thinking actually is developing and refining these systems models.   This is actually a fantastic way to connect discipline specific STEM knowledge to the design activity and we try to leverage that heavily.  Then from an educational perspective the physical prototype construction (while still having great value) is one of the least impactful stages of the process.  And modeling and the sense making and reflection that go along with questioning and refining these models is absolutely vital.  

    I welcome your offline suggestions (you can reach me at whitmer@parametricstudioinc.com).

     
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