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IES Contract

Title: Development of an Online, Multi-Challenge Platform for K-12 Students
Center: NCER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Belle, Deanne Awardee: Future Engineers
Program: Small Business Innovation Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (5/1/2017-4/30/2019) Award Amount: $899,988
Type: Phase II Development Award Number: EDIES17C0033

Project Website:

Video Demonstration of the Phase I Prototype:

Purpose: This project team developed and tested an open online platform that posts student-led engineering project challenges for Kindergarten to grade 12 classrooms. Research demonstrates that improved attitudes towards engineering in elementary and middle school are imperative to increase the pursuit of STEM degrees and careers. This project addressed a shortage of tools and curricula in K-12 engineering today, in order to meet the learning objectives new the Next Generation Science Standards and to engage students in STEM.

Project Activities: During Phase I, (completed in 2016), the team developed a prototype, including a content management platform to host challenges on a broad range of STEM topics, such as computer coding, digital modeling, or producing simulations. At the end of Phase I, researchers completed a pilot study with 100 students and two teachers. Results demonstrated that the prototype operated as intended, that students were highly engaged with challenges on the platform, and that teachers were able to incorporate challenges within instructional practice. In Phase II, the team refined the landing page, further developed the system architecture to accommodate a larger number of challenges and upgraded the teacher portal to build capacity for the effective integration into instructional practice. After development was completed, the research team conducted a pilot study to assess the feasibility and usability of the platform to support the implementation of STEM challenges that aligned to classroom curricular goals.  Three different STEM challenges were implemented across 17 classrooms with more than 150 students. Teacher's reported that all of the students were able to successfully register for their challenge and participate in the activities to complete the challenge as part of their class. Further, 77% of teachers (14 of 17) reported that they would use Future Engineers to administer a challenge in their class again, and 89% (15 of 17) agreed or strongly agreed that "participating in the Future Engineers challenges positively impacted my students' attitudes towards and perceptions of science and engineering."

Product: The project team developed a platform that facilitates design challenges in K-12 classrooms across STEM academic topics and career paths within the field of engineering. The platform enables classes to post their projects to the site and for other classes around the country to participate in the project. Each challenge (and the associated education resources curated for that challenge) is publicly displayed on the Future Engineers platform and offered free for student participation and classroom facilitation. The content management system enables the platform to host a high volume of challenges simultaneously and allows for a diverse array of student-generated submissions. The platform includes teacher resources to support the alignment of game play with learning goals and to support implementation.