Engaging students in STEM careers with project-based learning-Marine Tech Project

Tags: activities, marine engineering, math and science, MarineTech, ship construction, National Science Foundation, Project-Based Learning, clipper ship, Science Education, Marine Kits, instructional Modules, National Shipbuilding Research Program, simulation, Virginia, ship terminology, information technology, Old Dominion University, ship design, students, professional development, Alok K. Verma, Hull Design, Ship Operations, learning experiences, program activities, MarineTech Curriculum MarineTech, curriculum implementation, foundational skills, learning experience, Offshore Structures, Topics, Virginia Standards of Learning, high school students, technical education courses, advanced math, instructional strategies, TEACHER September 2011, support teachers, ship stability, progressive curriculum, Ship Cargo Operations, Operations, Ship Disaster, Daniel Dickerson, science teaching, learning activities, middle school science teachers, Dr. Verma, Darden College, Technology Connection, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Teacher Education, Tracy J., elementary teachers, National Conference, Journal of Science Teacher Education, Norfolk State University, Sue McKinney MarineTech, National Association for Research in Science Teaching, STEM Careers, shipbuilding companies, physical science, Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt., National Research Council, Educational Technology, Northwestern University, Earth and Space Science, National curriculum, Information Technology Association of America, shipbuilding
Content: Engaging students in STEM Careers with Project-Based Learning--MarineTech Project
By Alok K. Verma, Daniel Dickerson, and Sue McKinney
MarineTech addresses the urgent need to enhance underrepresented students' interest and performance in STEM courses while fostering skills that are important prerequisites for STEM careers, particularly in marine engineering, physical science, and Information Technology.
introduction Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University, in collaboration with the marine industry and local school systems, is improving STEM preparation using innovative experiences for students and teachers in the nation's major shipbuilding and repair areas through MarineTech and SBRCD projects. e MarineTech project will be serving 60 students in grades eight through twelve over a period of three years by providing 144 hours of instruction and hands-on learning experiences in the fields of marine engineering and physical sciences, with a shipbuilding focus. e program includes eight Saturdays during academic years, with an additional two-week academy during each summer. MarineTech's progressive curriculum covers foundational skills and knowledge of basic physical science as it relates to shipbuilding through the application of these principles in a culminating ship-design competition. e curriculum is enriched with program activities such as field trips to shipbuilding and repair companies, marine science museums, and career-day events. MarineTech concurrently targets 60 math, science, and technology education teachers for grades eight through twelve, each of whom will receive 40 hours of summer professional development and 40 hours of follow-up training and support. Teachers will work an additional 40 hours with their students to build a SeaPerch underwater robot and design and build a human-powered container ship for competition. Participating teachers will be fully trained in curriculum implementation and will be given materials and resources necessary to replicate MarineTech activities in their classrooms.
module is related to environmental issues during shipbuilding. Student comments point to a very stimulating learning experience. e article discusses the design and development of these activities and its subsequent implementation within the classroom.
Figure 1. MarineTech Curriculum MarineTech addresses the urgent need to enhance underrepresented students' interest and performance in STEM courses while fostering skills that are important prerequisites for STEM careers, particularly in marine engineering, physical science, and information technology. In the near term, the project will incorporate activities designed to boost Student Scores on academic achievement measures (SOLs). However, the project also addresses the critical shortage of qualified workers needed to sustain the defense shipbuilding and repair industry in the U.S. Support for the project from shipbuilding companies and professional organizations and government agencies is evidenced by letters of commitment to assist with the project by providing opportunities for students to see marine industries at work. Under a previous project funded by the National Shipbuilding Research Program, four hands-on activities were developed for middle and high school students. e project team, consisting of university faculty, industry personnel, and school and Community College teachers, developed these four Marine Kits, MK-1-4 and five Instructional Modules, IM-1-5, to impart learning experience related to shipbuilding and repair. ese activities and associated curriculum have been designed as an integrated experience, and each one builds upon the knowledge gained during the previous activity. Marine Kit-1 is related to shipyard operations and provides a big picture of how a shipyard operates. Marine Kit-2 deals with cost estimation and construction of a ship. Marine Kit-3 teaches about ship design and stability, while Marine Kit-4 deals with ship disaster investigation. e first Instructional Module deals with the terminology and history of ships; the second module deals with the structure of ships; the third module is about the design of the hull of a ship; the fourth module teaches different loading operations; and the fifth
Project-Based learning as a Teaching Tool Project-Based Learning has a proven record as a teaching tool. e constructivism learning theory suggests that people learn better by actively participating in the learning process. In order to involve students in the participatory learning process, the interaction among students and between students and the instructor in a classroom becomes very critical. Effectiveness of Project-Based Learning is well recognized. Edgar Dale's Cone of Learning as shown in Figure 2 supports the benefits of Project-Based Learning. Educators have been designing, using, evaluating, and writing about Project-Based Learning (PBL) for more than 20 years; however, it has not found widespread acceptance in classrooms. Project-Based Learning is a systematic teaching method that engages students in learning knowledge and skills through an extended inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks (Jones, Ramussen and Moffitt, 1997). Another important use of Project-Based Learning in education is to facilitate efforts at what has become known as "bridging the gap" between academics of a profession and practice of that profession. PBL is ideal for connecting factual knowledge, principles, and skills to their application within a profession. Figure 2. Cone of Learning by Edgar Dale
improve student achievement in math and science, bring excitement to students that results in increased enrollment in advanced math, science, and technical education courses, and enhance the workplace and college readiness of high school students.
Marine Kits 1-4. Need for Project-Based learning (PBl) e results from Virginia's Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments reveal that there is an achievement gap between minorities and Caucasians/Asians in all grade levels in Southside Virginia. Achievement gaps may be caused by numerous complex reasons such as economic or psychological conditions, or family-school disconnects beyond a school's control. Nonetheless, many factors, such as curriculum, effective instruction, and classroom management are within the control of the school environment and can be changed through organized professional development programs. is project aims to transform the pedagogical practices in the high-needs schools by providing training in ProjectBased Learning. In initial preparation for this project, the PIs interviewed many of the instructional specialists from the participating high-needs schools. ey stated that only a few teachers of physical sciences and chemistry use inquirybased Project-Based learning strategies in their classrooms. However, research reveals that inquiry-based learning and Project-Based Learning strategies develop communication, problem-solving, and Critical Thinking Skills and improve student achievement (Barron et al., 1998). MarineTech allows teachers to integrate real-world applications from a marine engineering perspective for teaching math and science concepts in middle and high schools. e project also provides professional development on marine engineering concepts to science, mathematics, and technology teachers. As a result, it is expected that teachers will
Needs to Enhance content knowledge and instructional Practices of Teachers e needs reported most frequently by school division leaders include: (a) concentrated assistance in math and science instruction; (b) better math and science preparation for teachers; (c) professional development to encourage secondary teachers to have high expectations for all students and to use a wide repertory of instructional strategies to meet student needs; (d) professional development that is closely linked with curriculum; (e) professional development on research-based practices and better ways to manage use of curricular materials; and (f ) anytime, anywhere support for teachers. In alignment with the High Objective Uniform Standard of Evaluation (HOUSE) of Virginia and the research on highquality professional development (CCSSO, 2005), MarineTech will focus on improving the content knowledge of teachers as they experiment with marine kits, learn to build ships, and connect the math and science concepts to realWORLD PROBLEMS. e project will enhance the pedagogical knowledge of teachers on using Project-Based Learning in instruction, promote collaboration among students from diverse school districts that alleviates issues regarding teacher efficacy (Holloway, 2003), encourage active learning and other technology resources to develop 21st century skills (Garet, et al, 2001), and support teachers in developing instructional modules in the content disciplines that are aligned with the Virginia Standards of Learning in mathematics and science. By providing year-long training activities with online support, the project will help teachers collaborate while developing learning modules. Future Workforce Needs in Marine Engineering and Technology Marine engineers and naval architects are expected to experience employment growth of 11 percent in the period 2006-2016. Excellent employment opportunities are expected for these professions because of growth in employment, an aging workforce, and limited number of students pursuing careers in these occupations. Another flourishing area in
Delivery Method e course is instructor-led classroom training combined with in-class, hands-on activities designed to invite Class Participation. is approach aids in the individualized instruction given to the participant. Instructional methods include facilitated discussion, hands-on activity, and on-thejob practical applications. PowerPoint presentations are used to deliver the course, supplemented by a series of videotapes from Society of Manufacturing Engineers and Productivity Inc.
Figure 3. 5E Learning Cycle in Marine Kit Activity
Marine Kits ­ Activities related to Shipbuilding and repair e four simulation activities are related to operation of a shipyard, ship construction, ship stability, and best practices in the shipping operations.
the marine field is merchant marine--phenomenal employment growth of 16 percent is expected in this field. ere are good prospects in the engineering technician field that also require good STEM skills. Employment growth for environmental engineering technicians over the period of 2006-16 is expected to be 25 percent. e occupation of an Industrial Engineering Technician is also a high-growth area, with the employment growth rate of 10 percent. While we are preparing our students to improve their knowledge of math and science and to develop technological skills, it is critical that we provide awareness about various types of STEM careers such as marine engineering. In this project, teachers will be able to understand about the demand for marine engineers and have an increased understanding about the way students need to enter the career.
a) Shipyard Operation Activity simulates operations within a shipyard. Plasma cutting, bending, and welding shops are simulated. Students use card stock paper to build a container ship. is simulation demonstrates modular construction of a ship. Topics covered: Components of a ship; Operations within a shipyard; Methods of ship construction; and Design calculations. b) Ship Construction Activity simulates construction of a clipper ship and a submarine. is simulation also covers calculations related to the cost of material, sales tax, and labor cost. Topics covered: Basic ship terminology; Fun-
Survey to Assess Students' Knowledge about Shipbuilding and repair A survey was designed to assess the impact of the PBL activities on the students' knowledge about shipbuilding and repair. is survey contains questions about ships' components, ship design, and physics principles like buoyancy. Student responses are aggregated, and average score is obtained on a scale of 1-10. Students are assessed using the same instrument after they have gone through the four simulation sessions. e difference in the score between the pre- and post-survey provides a measure of change in the knowledge base of the students.
Figure 4. Learning Cycle Applied to Marine Kit-4
damentals of ship construction; and Processes involved in cost estimation and part acquisition. c) Ship Stability Activity involves the understanding of center of gravity, center of buoyancy, and Archimedes Principle. is simulation uses foam hull shape to conduct experiments to identify center of buoyancy and observe the effect of salinity on buoyancy. Topics covered: Finding the Center of Buoyancy; Applying Archimedes principle to find weight and volume of displaced water; and Observing the effect of salinity on the draft. d) Ship Disaster Investigation simulation involves ship disaster Case Studies. Students play the roles of Ship Disaster Investigation Agency (SDIA) agents analyzing the ship disaster. ey identify possible causes behind the disaster. In this open-ended, problem-based simulation, students learn fundamentals of ship design, basic terminology used in the shipbuilding and shipping industry, and the correct practices followed in ship design, construction, and the shipping industry. Topics covered: Basic ship terminology; Fundamentals of ship design and construction; and Best practices followed in ship design, construction, and the shipping industry. Students perform each activity in groups of four to five. Students are provided with handouts and manuals that include instructions to carry out hands-on activities. e kit comes with a teacher's manual and model solutions for the simulations. Among the four activities, shipyard operation and ship construction simulations are more structured, while ship stability and ship disaster investigation are open-ended activities in which students are given clues and encouraged to find solutions. instructional Modules e five Instructional Modules developed under the NSF MarineTech program include History and Terminology of Ship Building, Ship and Offshore Structures, Hull Design, Ship Operations, and Environmental Issues in Ship Operations and Shipbuilding. a) History and Terminology of Shipbuilding covers history of ships, terminology of ships, different types of naval vessels, ship architecture, and different processes involved in shipbuilding. Students build a log boat and a raft using Play-Doh and craft sticks. Topics covered: History of Shipbuilding; Ship Terminology; Naval Vessels; Ship Architecture; and Shipbuilding.
b) Ship and Offshore Structures covers basic fundamentals of design of ship structures and offshore structures. is simulation involves building structural frames, measuring deflections in structure, and building offshore structures. Topics covered: Evolution of Ship Structures; Ship Structure ­ Beams; Trusses; Structural Loads on Ships; and Offshore Structures. c) Hull Design covers different designs of ship hulls. is simulation uses a foam hull model to test different hull shapes and also includes calculations for the resistance of ships for different hull shapes. Topics covered: Evolution of Ship Hull; Different Hull Shapes; Different Hull Applications; and Hull Design Fundamentals. d) Ship Operations covers different loading operations of ships and basic concepts on stability of ships. Students use a paper ship model to perform loading operations, perform experiments to calculate metacentric height and effects of free surface on ship stability. Topics covered: Types of Ships; Ship Organization; Ship Cargo Operations; and Stability of Ships. Students were divided into groups of four to five to conduct hands-on activities for each module. implementation of the Marine Kits and Associated instructional Modules As mentioned above, these activities are conducted in groups of four or five students and done in a session lasting for about three hours for instructional Modules and two hours for Marine Kits. e teacher explains the activity with a PowerPoint presentation and then the students are given the kits. At this point students begin the activity by going through the manuals and instruction sheets provided with the kit. Students use K'NEX parts to construct a clipper ship. Students first count parts required to construct a given ship by examining the detailed drawings and assembly instructions provided in the manuals. is activity tests students' skills for visualization and blueprint reading, project management, cost estimation, and supply chain management. After identifying the parts needed to construct the ship, students prepare a bill of material and order the parts from the teacher, who serves as the supplier. Groups are penalized for not having an accurate count of parts. If the group ordered fewer parts, then they can purchase the parts during assembly at double the price. If the group ordered too many parts, then they have to pay a 20% restocking fee to return the parts.
Each group's activity is assessed using a rubric containing performance criteria. e group that builds the ship with minimum cost, in the shortest amount of time, with the least number of defects and most accurate calculations wins the competition. results e MarineTech curriculum and associated project-based learning activities have been received equally well by both students and teachers. Comments at the end of the workshop reveal that students enjoy learning about ships, ship construction, ship design, and operations. Figure 5 shows the bar chart of student responses from the pre- and post-training evaluations. e x axis represents the questions asked before and after the workshop. e chart shows substantial increase in the "strongly agree" category after the students participated in the Marine Kits activity. Figure 6 shows the results from the evaluation of teacher workshops conducted during the summer of 2009. e chart shows that a majority of teachers believed that the workshop using Marine kits was extremely beneficial to them and that they enjoyed the hands-on activities. Conclusions e MarineTech project has successfully developed and integrated Project-Based Learning activities within the middle and high school curriculum. e Marine Kit activities and the Instructional Modules complement the Standards of Learning for middle and high schools. e project demonstrates that learning about ship design, construction, ship operations, and ship stability concepts is made easier by incorporating Project-Based Learning activities within the curriculum. Student learning is enhanced by incorporating Figures 5 and 6. Plots for student responses.
these activities where students work in groups to accomplish problem solving. Open-ended problems provide opportunities for group discussion and creative thinking. Students' comments from course evaluations indicate that students find these learning experiences very enjoyable. Participating teachers believed that the activities were well designed and will engage students in classroom. Widespread use of Marine Kits and associated Instructional Modules will successfully engage students and attract them toward STEM based-careers in the Marine Industry. Acknowledgements e authors are grateful to National Shipbuilding Research Program for funding the research project for the development of Marine Kits 1-4 and to National Science Foundation for the development of Instructional Modules 1-4. references Abel, S. & Roth, W. M. (1992). Constraints to teaching elementary science: A case study of a science enthusiast student. science education, 76(6), 581-595. Barron, B. J. S., Schwartz, D. L., Vye, N. J., Petrosino, A., Zech, L., Bransford, J. D., & e Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1998). Doing with understanding: Lessons from research on problem- and project-based learning. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 7(3&4), 271-311. Barstow, D. & Geary, E. (2001). Blueprint for change: Report from the National Conference on the Revolution in Earth and Space Science Education. In National Conference on the Revolution in Earth and Space Science Education, edited by D. Barstow. Cambridge, MA: Center for Earth and Space Science Education, TERC. Boe, T. (1989). e next step for educators and the technology industry: Investing in teachers. Educational Technology, 29(3), 39-44. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from: www.bls.gov/oco/ ocos027.htm Czerniak, C. & Schriver, M. (1994). An examination of preservice science teachers' beliefs and behaviors as related to self-efficacy. Journal of Science teacher education, 5(3), 77-86. Edelson, D. (1997). Realising authentic science learning through the adaptation of scientific practice. Northwestern University 1997. PDF File, available from www.covis. nwu.edu/info/papers/pdf/edelson-handbook-97.pdf Fisher, N., Gerdes, K., Logue, T., Smith, L., & Zimmerman, I. (1998). Improving students' knowledge and attitudes of
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