1. Lynn Cominsky
  2. http://epo.sonoma.edu/~lynnc/
  3. Professor and Chair
  4. Developing a Student-Driven STEM and Computer Science Curriculum for Rural Students
  5. http://lbym.sonoma.edu
  6. Sonoma State University, Ukiah High School
  1. Kevin Considine
  2. IT Consultant
  3. Developing a Student-Driven STEM and Computer Science Curriculum for Rural Students
  4. http://lbym.sonoma.edu
  5. Sonoma State University
  1. Patricia Halpin
  2. Biology Teacher
  3. Developing a Student-Driven STEM and Computer Science Curriculum for Rural Students
  4. http://lbym.sonoma.edu
  5. Ukiah High School
  1. Laura Peticolas
  2. http://epo.sonoma.edu/group/laura-peticolas/
  3. Associate Director
  4. Developing a Student-Driven STEM and Computer Science Curriculum for Rural Students
  5. http://lbym.sonoma.edu
  6. Sonoma State University
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Lynn Cominsky

    Lynn Cominsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 12, 2019 | 05:55 p.m.

    Welcome to the Learning by Making video public discussion area! We are just finishing five years of pilot implementation of this exciting and innovative 9th grade STEM curriculum which has been shown to improve science and math performance. We are happy to announce that we received another round of funding  from the US Department of Education to keep improving our experiments and update our hardware infrastructure. Here are some questions for viewers that would help guide our work during the next five years:

    1) What type of computers do you use with your students and are they one-to-one or only in specific laboratory rooms?

    2) Do you know of any way to properly assess hands-on curricula such as Learning by Making that focus on scientific and engineering design practices and student mastery of electronics and computer programming more heavily than NGSS disciplinary core ideas? 

    3) Do you know any high-need rural high schools within ~4 hour drive of Santa Rosa CA that would be interested in adopting our curriculum? We are seeking a few more school or district partnerships for our next cohort. Training would begin in early August 2019, for implementation in your classes beginning in August 2020. We provide travel, training stipends, all experimental equipment, yearly WBL field trip,  technical support and more... Please post if you or a ninth-grade teacher you know may be interested.

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 06:42 a.m.

    An interesting video, thanks for posting it.

       I am curious how you decided to choose LOGO — a language I am fond of, but there are so many other possibilities out there these days!  

        I am also curious about something else:  The Science Ed Field (however defined) has been pushing hands-on, engaging science for a long time (at least since the late 1950s).  How does one find a control classroom for an innovative project like yours, given that the other classes might be using someone else's groundbreaking, hands-on, technology-enriched program?  

     
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    Laura Peticolas
  • Icon for: Laura Peticolas

    Laura Peticolas

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 07:01 p.m.

    Brian, thank you for your questions. 

    Perhaps because we are focused on rural schools, we have not run into any competitive hands-on program like ours. Our program is also about 25% computer programming, which other programs do not yet seem to have. Perhaps, our dedication to cheap sensors only recently available, makes our curriculum much more affordable than others we have found. Teachers can replace parts at local stores easily and cheaply, even in many rural towns. 

    We chose Logo because it was designed as a computer language to teach students how to code. Even Scratch, perhaps the most common programming language used to teach young students to code, is based on the Logo language. Since our program is in high schools in rural districts, access to computer programming has been limited. We wanted a teaching computer code that allowed students to learn command-line typing and code editing. It needed to be flexible enough for students to use in creating their own science experiments: data collection, plotting, and analysis. We haven't seen a system like what we have developed. We are still developing it for scalability.

    Laura

  • Icon for: Lynn Cominsky

    Lynn Cominsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 01:59 p.m.

    I have been trying to teach students how to program for over 15 years, and Logo is the first language that has actually worked! I have tried Arduino (IDE), python, Mathematica, etc. and none of these have worked. Students love the hardware parts of the curriculum that we bring them, and fall flat when it gets to the software parts. This includes students from middle school all the way through college, and also includes community college instructors, who were convinced that they could program new sensors for Arduino-based experiments. They were not able to do so, despite these claims. Logo is especially good for hardware development, as students get immediate feedback when they type in commands.

    In response to your second question, in all of our schools (to date), the control classroom will be one that still teaches stove-piped classes in biology, chemistry, etc. Our biggest problem in finding a control classroom is that most schools want to teach our curriculum to all of their ninth graders! 

  • Icon for: Victor van den Bergh

    Victor van den Bergh

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 06:46 p.m.

    I'm curious about the finding from your pilot study that students who typically struggle in class were among those who benefitted the most from LbM.  What is it about your program that you think leads to such positive results with these students in particular?  Thank you for sharing your work and congratulations on the continued funding.

     
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    Laura Peticolas
  • Icon for: Laura Peticolas

    Laura Peticolas

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 07:30 p.m.

    Hi Victor,

    Patty has responded below, as one of our co-presenters and a teacher who has been implementing this class for several years. 

    As a manager, physicist, and science educator I can speak from an understanding of the curriculum processes and content, as well as the evaluation and teacher feedback. I think there are primarily two reasons why this curriculum has such positive results for those who typically struggle in class.

    One may be because this curriculum is immersive: hands-on, problem solving, creative, and it requires that students help one another. Any students that are distracted by challenges unrelated to school, such as home life, mental health, or social challenges, may be able to forgo those distractions in lieu of the multiple stimulations provided by this curriculum. It allows for students to get "hooked" in order to solve a problem, to interact with classmates to solve problems, and to use multiple intelligences to succeed. 

    Another reason may be because this curriculum levels the playing field. Very few of the students who start the class have prior knowledge of the Logo programming language, electronics, nor developing experiments using sensors plugged into a basic electronics board and microchip, which interacts with a computer in "real time." This makes it so that, initially, very few students come in with vocabulary, knowledge, or skills that give them an advantage over other students. This appears to create a learning environment in which those who typically get A's are being helped by students who may have F's in all other classes. Perhaps, in turn, this gives the student who typically struggles in class the confidence that he or she needs to continue to work hard and excel.

     
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    Fatai Bakare
  • Icon for: Christopher Lee

    Christopher Lee

    Researcher
    May 19, 2019 | 07:40 p.m.

    I like your conjecture about leveling the playing feel. Everyone must feel good about at least one thing in order to excel in life. Succeeding in your program could be the spark that a child needs. Keep up the great work!

     
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    Laura Peticolas
  • Icon for: Patricia Halpin

    Patricia Halpin

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 08:07 p.m.

    Hi Victor

    I have been teaching Sonoma State University's STEM curriculum over the past 4 years.

    When students who typically struggle in a lecture type class, usually they are unengaged, sitting there

    doing nothing. Not listening, participating, or knowing what's going on.

    With this STEM curriculum EVERY STUDENT is engaged- doing the task, wiring, coding, typing.

    Rarely will a student sit there doing nothing when everyone else is moving around them.

    My STEM classes are typically not college prep, students are not driven, their grades are typically 

    not great, they are not passing.  They may or may not be passing the STEM class......but they are

    diffidently ALL DOING SOMETHING during class.  They are super proud and excited when the LED

    bulbs turn on or the temperature sensors start generating data and graphs!!! 

    A few of my most creative art drawings came from F grade students, who got interested in the coding

    and creating an unusual drawing or design.

    It's very cool to see girly girls wiring.......especially with those Super long, fake nails.

    They are doing it!!! And SO excited when the LED light bulb goes ON.

    I think it's just the movement in the class. If everyone is just sitting there, a person doing nothing

    easily blends. But if everyone is up, out of their seats, cutting wires, generating graphs, then it's easy

    to feel like your left out or odd ball, So they feel more inclined to join the Git'er Done Crowd :)

    It's super Cool !!!

  • Icon for: Joseph Kern

    Joseph Kern

    Researcher
    May 14, 2019 | 09:27 a.m.

    I'm glad to see a great rural-focused project that is hitting students at the jumping-off point as they begin to choose what they want to pursue through high school and beyond.  Our project (Agricultural Applications of Computer Science) has a lot of similarities, including the development of electronic skills along with programming skills.  Have you felt the need to deal with electronics issues more than programming issues?  How do you minimize the amount of time that students spend staring at wires, figuring our which one isn't right, in order to maximize the time that they get to spend being creative?

    As for your questions, 

    1) Computers: Our technology varies according to the teacher and school.  Most have 1:1 student laptops or chromebooks, but at least one was just a small class where the students had to borrow the teacher's computer most of the time.  This summer we are introducing Raspberry Pi, giving each teacher 6 sets that include 5" screens, so they will work just like tiny computers.  If students aren't creating projects with the R-Pi's own GPIO pins, they can plug in an Arduino board and run the Arduino IDE to program it.  I'm interested in seeing how this opens up the way that students are able to approach our activities and how teachers are able to support class sizes.

    2) Alternative assessments: With our agriculture course focus, we began our outcomes by looking at Career & Technical Education (CTE) course "proficiencies", rather than NGSS standards. We aren't assessing students' overall Making skills (electronics/engineering) in our project, but there are several CTE courses that list really good outcomes for physical programming. We cherry-picked what skills we wanted to focus on, and we're collecting student pre/post scores on a set of programming skills from the "Intro to Coding" course that falls under both the IT and STEM CTE career clusters.  (Your state may have different names for your clusters, pathways, and courses, so you'll have to do some digging on your states Dept. of Ed website and/or find the right people to help you.)  

     
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    Laura Peticolas
  • Icon for: Laura Peticolas

    Laura Peticolas

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 05:04 p.m.

    Thank you for your responses to our questions, Joseph. Prof. Cominsky replied below.

    I watched your video on Monday and saw some interesting similarities in our projects. It is interesting that you went directly with CTE outcomes.I appreciate your response!

    Because our program is an entire year-long course, the students have the time to develop programming skills, then electronics skills, then build on both to develop scientific data gathering skills using sensors, then skills in how to conceive, design and build an experiment, then to delve into scientific experiments using all of these skill sets. This is one reason we have kept the college course goals, while allows allowing flexibility and pathways that support students who will take a CTE pathway. As a 9th grade class, this is possible. 

    Laura

     

  • Icon for: Lynn Cominsky

    Lynn Cominsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 02:35 p.m.

    We considered using Raspberry Pis, but have recently moved from Linux systems on HP Streams to running Linux on Chromebooks. We hope to transition to using a Chrome app with the Arduinos, but the Arduinos will still be using Logo for the student interface.  It will be interesting to see how your students handle the Arduino IDE. In my past experience it has been a daunting challenge that was not able to be met, even by community college instructors who knew the C programming language.

    We will definitely look into your assessment approach, as this is an area in which we continue to struggle. Thanks! 

  • Icon for: Ginger Fitzhugh

    Ginger Fitzhugh

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 05:40 p.m.

    Very interesting! I'm curious whether you looked at gender dynamics in either program implementation or outcomes. (Patricia mentioned observing girls wiring.)

  • Icon for: Lynn Cominsky

    Lynn Cominsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 06:24 p.m.

    We did not measure learning outcomes separately by gender, but there was much observational evidence that the girls excelled in many cases, especially with building and troubleshooting the circuits. With our small rural classes, it was hard enough to get good statistics for the sample as a whole (about 100 students). 

  • Icon for: Joanne Figueiredo

    Joanne Figueiredo

    K-12 Teacher
    May 14, 2019 | 07:33 p.m.

    This is a great way to integrate coding and technology into science classes! It is impressive to see these 9th grade students enthusiastically working on projects where they analyze questions and come up with answers. I love that the kids are using simple supplies to study basic scientific questions! I'd love to read more about your program!

     
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    Laura Peticolas
  • Icon for: Lynn Cominsky

    Lynn Cominsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 06:25 p.m.

    Please do read more at our project website: http://lbym.sonoma.edu

    Or write to us if you have specific questions. Our goal is to keep all the materials simple and non-proprietary. 

    We have been very excited to see some of the experiments that the students have created! 

  • May 15, 2019 | 10:41 a.m.

    What a great project and impressive results! Is this an elective course? Patricia mentioned that the kids who take the STEM course are not the most driven students. What others courses do the control students take?

  • Icon for: Lynn Cominsky

    Lynn Cominsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 06:27 p.m.

    This course is being taught as an elective in some schools, but as one of the two required prep science lab classes in other schools. In some of our smaller rural schools, all the ninth grade students take this course.  In others, some of the students take the traditional bio/chem sequence instead. We are thrilled at how this is going so far and hope to find more relatively local rural schools to adopt the curriculum for our new study.

  • Icon for: Sharon Nelson-Barber

    Sharon Nelson-Barber

    Researcher
    May 17, 2019 | 07:58 p.m.

    What a great program. I would love to integrate this process with students who frequently learn by making as a result of their remote, subsistence lifestyles.

     
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    Laura Peticolas
  • Icon for: Lynn Cominsky

    Lynn Cominsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2019 | 08:58 p.m.

    Hi Sharon. We are working with others at WestEd on this project, and also with one native high school in Covelo, CA. There may be other things in common between our two programs, we should get together to discuss!

  • May 17, 2019 | 08:20 p.m.

    Hi Lynn, Linlin, and team,

    I've enjoyed following your work over the years and it was lovely to see your video! It gave me a sense of how students respond to this innovative approach to learning. So empowering!

    I was also interested in your comment (and hypothesis) that the Learning by Making approach may have the impact it does because it appears to level the playing field, as the majority of students don't come to the table with relevant prior experience. It makes me wonder if that might also be to your advantage when working with teachers in professional learning too. With our Making Sense of SCIENCE professional learning project, we also talked about the value of leveling the playing field in terms of what experiences and information we make available to teachers. We find when we provide "content notes" with some common definitions and explanations of science concepts, then teachers' participation in scientific discourse increases. More specifically, we observe that teachers who come to the professional learning with little to no experience on a topic (e.g., electric circuits) will reference the content notes and stretch their use of academic language. On the other hand the "knowers" also check their understanding against the content notes and often find they need to refine their language or understanding through discourse. So, I'm just curious how you see that leveling of the playing field play out in the classroom.

    Looking forward to continuing the conversation. Cheers!

     
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    Laura Peticolas
  • Icon for: Lynn Cominsky

    Lynn Cominsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2019 | 09:00 p.m.

    Hi Kirsten. Let's definitely continue the conversation as we are always eager to improve our PD sessions. It is certainly true that almost all the teachers in our program come in with no programming or electronics experience.

    So we would be happy to discuss how we can improve the materials that we are preparing for the teachers.

  • Small default profile

    Richard Botzler

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 18, 2019 | 03:48 p.m.

    I value the work these teachers are conducting on behal of STEM education.  I particularly enjoyed Patty Halpin's presentation above

     
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    Laura Peticolas
  • Icon for: Lynn Cominsky

    Lynn Cominsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2019 | 09:51 p.m.

    Patty is an amazing asset to our program! Please let us know if you would like more information about the program.

  • Icon for: Michael Haney

    Michael Haney

    May 20, 2019 | 02:19 p.m.

    Very interesting project with a well structured design for the student work from question to design, data gathering, etc....  I’m late to this discussion and there have been many excellent comments and suggestions above.  The evaluation results are impressive.  Of course, it would be great if this could scale to more schools and more types of settings so the impact could be measured more rigorously (comparative groups, controls, and longitudinal results).  LOGO, of course, is not an end point but it is well conceived and reinforces structured problem solving, which is critical and hopefully transferable to whatever environment or language used in the future but the students.  Thanks for the clear presentation of the design, project and result.  

     
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    Laura Peticolas
  • Icon for: Laura Peticolas

    Laura Peticolas

    Co-Presenter
    May 20, 2019 | 07:10 p.m.

    Thank you Michael. We completely agree with you with respect to more schools and more rigorous measurement. We received a grant in October to do just these things. In five years, we expect to be able to really expand and to have a full-blown statistical study to determine our impact. Longitudinal results will, of course, have to wait. But we look forward to the day we can look back 10-12 years and see where these students are in life and if what we did actually helped their career and life paths, as we hope. 

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.