Public Discussion

  • Icon for: Elc Estrera

    Elc Estrera

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 05:57 p.m.

    This looks like a great way to get young people involved in computer programming in a real concrete way. What other projects did you consider having the girls complete?

  • Icon for: Carolyn Nichol

    Carolyn Nichol

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 09:09 a.m.

    Actually, the girls do not compete with each other but rather we set up a variety of different mazes for them to run their “cars/dragons” through. We found both in practice and in research articles that having a competition was not as enjoyable for the middle school girls as having an open ended celebration. The girls could pick which mazes to go through and everyone received recognition for their achievements. In this two week program we had other projects that the girls worked on and they received a stamp in their “passports” when they were completed.

  • Icon for: Elc Estrera

    Elc Estrera

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 03:57 p.m.

    Thanks for clarifying, Carolyn. That sounds like it’d create a more encouraging environment.

  • Icon for: Wendy Martin

    Wendy Martin

    Research Scientist
    May 17, 2016 | 10:17 a.m.

    I love that your video gives a lot of time to the voices of the girls, parents and mentors, and the girls’ creations. How do recruit the girls into your program?

  • Icon for: Carolyn Nichol

    Carolyn Nichol

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 01:55 p.m.

    Most of the 25 girls are in 7th grade at schools in the Houston Independent School District. Most of the students are recruited through teachers that have participated in Rice University professional development programs. For example, we have an NSF Research Experience for Teachers program, most of whom teach in high needs schools, and we send the applications to the teachers in that program.

  • Icon for: Carol Fletcher

    Carol Fletcher

    Deputy Director
    May 17, 2016 | 03:39 p.m.

    Have you considered combining teacher professional development with a student camp like this to scale up impact?

  • Icon for: Carolyn Nichol

    Carolyn Nichol

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 04:32 p.m.

    Carol, That is a great idea. We would love to incorporate teacher PD with our summer programs, but we haven’t really figured out how to do so. Our Computer Engineering Design program for middle school girls will be held the same week as our Texas Regional Collaborative math and science programs for teachers. Interesting. Any ideas??

  • Icon for: Carol Fletcher

    Carol Fletcher

    Deputy Director
    May 17, 2016 | 04:38 p.m.

    Carolyn,
    We are actually experimenting with this idea this summer in our SustainIT camps here in Austin. Based on our pilot of this model in the winter, teachers like getting trained on the technology and acting as “TAs” for the camp without having full responsibility for teaching something that is new to them. They get to see how kids interact with the technology, what their roadblocks are and what comes easy to them, in a low-stakes environment where they can learn along side the students. Check out the specifics at http://www.thetrc.org/sustainit-stembridge-2016/ . We are still recruiting teachers so let your Rice teachers know if they are interested. We want to build capacity for them to be the camp leaders in the future.

  • Icon for: Carolyn Nichol

    Carolyn Nichol

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 04:50 p.m.

    Interesting! I will be happy to recruit teachers to your program. Also, I just realized that our TRC Computer Science PD, which is for middle school teachers, is the week before our middle school girls program. We will definitely invite the teachers to be teaching assistants in student program. Thank you for the idea!!

  • Icon for: Nicole Reitz-Larsen

    Nicole Reitz-Larsen

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2016 | 01:51 a.m.

    I agree with the comments above that it is great to hear from a variety of voices regarding the project. It looks like it is an afterschool program that students can sign up for. How much does it cost the girls to attend?

    What kind of scaffolding activities do you do to support the girls in learning about the micro controllers, conductors, etc?

  • Icon for: Carolyn Nichol

    Carolyn Nichol

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 04:03 p.m.

    The program is a 2 week 1/2 summer program and it is free to all participants through a gift from Schlumberger. After the summer, we support the students with “maker meet ups” for about 5 summers throughout the academic year.

    We scaffold the program through squishy circuits and things like the arduino blink tutorial https://www.arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/HomePage

  • Icon for: Jim Boyd

    Jim Boyd

    Technology Director
    May 18, 2016 | 09:13 a.m.

    Thank you for sharing this great student program. Was this program tied to any middle school classwork, or was it strictly optional out of class activity?

  • Icon for: Carolyn Nichol

    Carolyn Nichol

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 04:16 p.m.

    It was not tied to the classroom but we hope that teachers that we will be working with this summer will implement similar projects in their schools.

  • Icon for: Brett Slezak

    Brett Slezak

    Health and Physical Education Teacher
    May 18, 2016 | 12:59 p.m.

    Carolyn, what a great way to engage girls in CS. Having two girls myself, I wish there were more opportunities designed like this to engage them in the CS world. I know that middle school is a pivotal time for girls in CS, and is the age where we see them starting to self-select out of CS classes. I was interested to know if you have seen any empirical or anecdotal evidence of impact from your program on local school districts and the number of female students opting-in to CS and STEM related class?

  • Icon for: Carolyn Nichol

    Carolyn Nichol

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 04:23 p.m.

    We have past participants in our program who are mentoring/teaching in the program and they say it has really excited them about STEM careers. On the other hand, we have a large study with 13,000 3rd grade to 12 grade students that we are in the process of publishing that shows how girls attitudes towards science starts to diminish relative to boys in middle school.

  • Icon for: Barbara Ericson

    Barbara Ericson

    Senior Research Scientist
    May 19, 2016 | 02:31 p.m.

    I have used teachers from my professional development workshops to run computing summer camps and it is a great way for teachers to try out new ideas without the pressure of having to create lesson plans and worry about grading.

  • Icon for: Jill Denner

    Jill Denner

    Senior Research Scientist
    May 19, 2016 | 03:16 p.m.

    Great video! I am interested in how you recruit the college mentors, and what training or support you provide for them?

  • Icon for: Carolyn Nichol

    Carolyn Nichol

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 04:30 p.m.

    We hire (pay) undergraduates for the entire summer to work in a variety of STEM programs. They are just helping in our first summer student program, which is a STEM Fab program for migrant students, and then by the end of the summer they are teaching the program pretty independently. In the academic they volunteer on our Saturday meet ups.

  • Icon for: Barbara Ericson

    Barbara Ericson

    Senior Research Scientist
    May 22, 2016 | 08:47 p.m.

    Did the girls pick the design for their “car”? Have you considered having the girls creating interactive art instead of “cars”? Arbotics at http://artbotics.cs.uml.edu/wordpress/ has used LEGO robot kits and arduino’s to create interactive 2d art projects. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CAXAY6FYSc for some examples with LEGO robot kits.

  • Icon for: Carolyn Nichol

    Carolyn Nichol

    Presenter
    May 23, 2016 | 12:04 p.m.

    We change up the final challenge and one year it was 3D printed owls (like Rice Owls!) that could move and light up. The kinetic lego mindstorms are very cool! I will share this with our undergrads as we brainstorm new projects for this summer. Thank you!

  • Icon for: Barbara Ericson

    Barbara Ericson

    Senior Research Scientist
    May 22, 2016 | 08:49 p.m.

    How are you measuring changes in the girls attitudes and confidence?

  • Icon for: Carolyn Nichol

    Carolyn Nichol

    Presenter
    May 23, 2016 | 12:06 p.m.

    We have some surveys that we just for the summer programs but for our much more intensive programs for teachers, we assess student attitudes towards sciences using the ATSI or MATSI surveys. Do you know of one specifically for computer science?

  • Icon for: Barbara Ericson

    Barbara Ericson

    Senior Research Scientist
    May 23, 2016 | 01:21 p.m.

    Our evaluators created one for our computing summer camps. Tom McKlin at Sagefox should be able to send you a copy and explain what it was based on. His email is tmcklin@sagefoxgroup.com.

  • Small default profile

    Terri Reh

    Guest
    May 24, 2016 | 11:57 a.m.

    I am a middle school teacher who teaches Language Arts and Programming (elective). I have been given a new assignment, Innovation Technology programming/robotics/engineering). I would love to become involved in what you are doing. but wouldn’t know where to start. Thoughts?

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.

  1. Carolyn Nichol
  2. http://www.rstem.rice.edu/
  3. Building diverse computer engineers of the future using prototyping
  4. Computer Engineering Design
  5. http://rstem.rice.edu
  6. Rice University
  1. brandon martin
  2. Computer Engineering Design
  3. http://rstem.rice.edu
  4. Rice University

Computer Engineering Design for Middle School Girls
EEC-1406885

The Schlumberger-Rice Computer Engineering Design Academy introduced middle school girls to the field of computer engineering through hands-on technological experiences and real-world applications. Students were first introduced to circuits, input/output, microprocessors, and a programming language and then directly experimented into activities and projects. In week one, students were introduced to circuits, methods of input and output, microprocessors, and a programming language. Students first learned how electricity flows through materials and built their own basic circuits. Next they learned how to use electronic components to give a microprocessor, the Arduino Uno, inputs and obtain desired outputs. Students also became comfortable with writing sketches and downloading them onto the Arduino Uno. The final project was to create and command a “Car-duino”, a Bluetooth controlled car-like device.
In order to familiarize themselves with basic circuitry, students used both conductive and non-conductive play dough. Methods of input included potentiometers, flex sensors, buttons, soft potentiometers, photo resistors, and temperature sensors. Using circuit diagrams and provided codes, students learned how the components must be wired and commanded with sketches. Students created games using the pieces available and even related their projects to real world applications. Finally, students used computer commands such as For, If/Else, and While to write their car code.

The culminating event was a demonstration and presentations on the last day for family, guests, and the Rice community.