Colorado Higher-Education Interdisciplinary Program - Colorado State University GK-12 Program: A multi-disciplinary research and teaching program in biomedical engineering for discovery and understanding of cell communication

Loco-Motion K-12 Project at University High School

Dan Wagner and Jaclyn Adkins
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LocoMotion StudentsThe intent of this project is to improve the interdisciplinary nature of STEM education along the K-12 continuum.  The yearlong project will encompass all grades from kindergarten to twelfth in a discovery and research based format focusing on a topic which is interdisciplinary and longitudinal. The concepts of position, velocity, and acceleration known as kinematics is such a topic.  Kinematics is deep and broad enough that it can be introduced in a kindergarten classroom and eventually tested on Advanced Placement Physics and Calculus tests.  Projects, experiments, and engineering design challenges appropriate for all levels using kinematics as a central theme.  Of the STEM topics this project will focus on the mathematics, engineering, and technology connections.

LocoMotion StudentsWith the mentor teacher as guide and evaluator the fellow will lead the project throughout the year.  The fellow will interview and select a group of Junior Fellows who will commit to the project for the entire year.  After selection and a “kick off” event the group will get to work designing experiments and activities that are appropriate for each age group.  Then the group will deliver the product to each grade level starting with kindergarten.  The depth and scope of the lessons will increase with each successive grade as data from the experiments and the depth of knowledge increases.

LocoMotion Students Each grade will use an engineering design process … the process of devising a system, component, or process to meet desired needs. It is a decision making process (often iterative) in which the basic sciences, mathematics, and engineering sciences are applied to convert resources optimally to meet a stated objective. Among the fundamental elements of the design process are the establishment of objectives and criteria, synthesis, analysis, construction, testing and evaluation. This process will be introduced and applied to assist in the design of kinematics experiments and data collection.  The challenge for the Loco Motion team is to break the process down to the appropriate level and to create a learning opportunity that involves technology (maybe as simple as dropping a ball) and mathematics (this could be just measuring a distance) and data collection.  A final project in a physics and mathematics class will conclude the project.  This project will be a new and exciting opportunity for students to learn about kinematics and the process of engineering design, mathematics, and technology.

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