The Use of Digital Manipulatives in K-12: Robotics, GPS/GIS and Programming

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Faculty from 4-H Youth Development, Biosystems Engineering, and Education have collaborated to develop and implement an innovative robotics and geospatial technologies program, delivered in an informal learning setting of 4-H clubs and afterschool programs. Aimed at middle school youth, the program uses robotics and Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers and Geographic Information System (GIS) software to provide hands-on, self-directed learning experiences that promote personalized comprehension of Science, Technology, Engineering, And Math (STEM) concepts through experimentation. The goals of the program are to prepare youth for the 21st Century workplace by providing them opportunities to learn STEM concepts and foster positive attitudes about STEM. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the project has undergone extensive research and evaluation over the three years of the project.