Response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 induced school shutdown dramatically decreased hands-on STEM learning opportunities for both K-12 and college students alike. Rather than shutting down our projects midstream in the spring 2020 semester, we adapted our interventions to a virtual format to keep hands-on STEM instruction alive.

Project Interventions in early Spring 2020

Prior to school site closures, all three Ed+gineering collaborations were in full swing. In Collaboration 1, 19 teams of 4-6 PSTs and UESs had just completed a trial run of the engineering lessons they had designed for 5th graders who were planning to come to the ODU campus for Engineering Day. In Collaboration 2, nineteen pairs of PSTs and undergraduate engineering students had already built simple robots in preparation for interacting with the elementary school students. Four after school club sessions had been held with the 5th graders, but the robotics project had not yet begun. In Collaboration 3, seven teams of PSTs and UESs had recently visited the classrooms of the 4th graders for whom they were designing lessons. In order to develop culturally responsive lessons connected to the children’s interests, the undergraduates prepared presentations on 12 different fluid dynamics-related topics, such as slime, cooking, and military jets.

When the school sites closed in March, the Engineering Day field trips were cancelled and the after school technology club could no longer meet in person. Rather than terminating all three collaborations mid-stream, the Ed+gineering project team made the decision to adapt the activities to virtual learning experiences. For Collaborations 1 & 3, instead of planning and teaching live lessons to elementary students who would visit the campus, the teams of collaborating education and engineering students were asked to create asynchronous multimedia lessons using Google Slides. The teams ensured that all suggested materials required for elementary students to participate in their engineering lessons could be found around most homes.

In Collaboration 2, the after-school technology club was moved online and took the form of 19 simultaneously occurring weekly Zoom meetings over the course of 4-5 weeks. Instead of sharing one Hummingbird robotics kit and collaborating on a single team robot as had been done in the past, each participant was provided with a kit and encouraged to build their own robot based on their team’s chosen theme.

Spring 2020 Adaptation Outcomes

Collaboration 1

  • Nineteen teams of students in Collaboration 1 produced a multimedia engineering lesson using Google slides [link to the embedded slideshows]
  • Lessons were distributed to partner teachers
  • Eighteen elementary students submitted a contest entry with their engineering design challenge solution

Collaboration 2

  • Nineteen teams (i.e. one education, one engineering, one 5th grader) produced at least one bio-inspired robot
  • 65 robots were engineered in total
  • Each team produced a “shark tank”-style pitch to explain and promote their robot
  • Robots and awards were presented during a virtual family showcase event, including 6 awards from industry partner, Birdbrain Technologies, the maker of the Hummingbird kit

Collaboration 3

  • Seven teams produced a virtual lesson specifically designed to address the interests (e.g. water parks) expressed by its intended 4th grade audience.
  • Lessons were delivered to the seven teachers of the 4th grade classes, all of whom were working in Title I schools.

Fall 2020 & Spring 2021 Implementations

The Ed+gineering project team is running comparison groups for the Fall 2020 semester and using the time to analyze and synthesize the additional data collected in Spring 2020.

Read the complete summary of our response to the COVID-19 school site closings.