1. Alka Harriger
  2. https://tech.purdue.edu/profile/harrigea
  3. Professor & PI
  4. Curriculum and Assessment Design to Study the Development of Motivation and Computational Thinking for Middle School Students across Three Learning Contexts
  5. https://techfit.tech.purdue.edu/
  6. Purdue University
  1. Suyash Agrawal
  2. Curriculum and Assessment Design to Study the Development of Motivation and Computational Thinking for Middle School Students across Three Learning Contexts
  3. https://techfit.tech.purdue.edu/
  4. Purdue University
  1. susan flynn
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/susan-flynn-b4042b17/
  3. Senior Instructor
  4. Curriculum and Assessment Design to Study the Development of Motivation and Computational Thinking for Middle School Students across Three Learning Contexts
  5. https://techfit.tech.purdue.edu/
  6. College of Charleston
  1. Brad Harriger
  2. https://tech.purdue.edu/profile/bcharrig
  3. Professor & PI
  4. Curriculum and Assessment Design to Study the Development of Motivation and Computational Thinking for Middle School Students across Three Learning Contexts
  5. https://techfit.tech.purdue.edu/
  6. Purdue University
  1. Andrew Huang
  2. Curriculum and Assessment Design to Study the Development of Motivation and Computational Thinking for Middle School Students across Three Learning Contexts
  3. https://techfit.tech.purdue.edu/
  4. Purdue University
  1. Weiling Li
  2. Curriculum and Assessment Design to Study the Development of Motivation and Computational Thinking for Middle School Students across Three Learning Contexts
  3. https://techfit.tech.purdue.edu/
  4. Purdue University
  1. Loran Parker
  2. Associate Director
  3. Curriculum and Assessment Design to Study the Development of Motivation and Computational Thinking for Middle School Students across Three Learning Contexts
  4. https://techfit.tech.purdue.edu/
  5. Purdue University
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: susan flynn

    susan flynn

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 11:21 a.m.

    Amazing TECHFIT NSF teacher training and program.  The teachers and students gain so many useful skills that will lead them down a path for great success in a career and in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

     
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    Andrew Huang
    Alka Harriger
  • Icon for: Alka Harriger

    Alka Harriger

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 04:27 p.m.

    We are thankful to have Susan Flynn, an excellent teacher educator, lead the brain blasts for our program. Our initial NSF proposal wasn't funded, and one of the reasons is that the reviewers' doubted our ability to cover the breadth of content that is in TECHFIT to the level where teachers from various subjects could sufficiently learn it, apply it, and teach it. I've witnessed the reason why we were able to do it successfully for four straight years of PDs...the integration of Susan's brain blasts during the learning process of the more "academic" type content (programming, wiring, ...). Not only do they provide the teachers with a wealth of ideas for their exergame innovation task, but it also helps keep their brains fueled to accept all of the content. Additionally, it makes learning what we're teaching FUN!

     
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    Andrew Huang
    susan flynn
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    Mary Hartsorn

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 14, 2018 | 11:36 a.m.

    This looks like a really valuable, fun program for students to become involved in.

     
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    Andrew Huang
    susan flynn
    Alka Harriger
  • Icon for: Alka Harriger

    Alka Harriger

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 04:21 p.m.

    Thank you for taking the time to watch our video and leave a comment. We believe that it is making a positive difference in the schools that have implemented TECHFIT. One school told us recently that based on the comments from many students who were in the 7th grade TECHFIT class, they will be adding an 8th grade TECHFIT class (to allow the students to continue developing deeper knowledge in what they learned this past year).

  • Icon for: Scot Osterweil

    Scot Osterweil

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 12:00 p.m.

    Nice lively video, and the results in the data certainly look promising. I'd love to know more about how easy it is for teachers to adopt and implement Techfit. Is there a steep learning curve, or are you seeing adoptions among teachers for whom such intense hands-on activities are sometimes a stretch? (I guess I'm asking about the scalability.) It's hard to fit everything in a 3 minute video, so I'm also curious about exactly what the students' activities are, and what the connection is between the engineering activities and fitness.

     
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    susan flynn
    Alka Harriger
  • Icon for: Alka Harriger

    Alka Harriger

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 04:18 p.m.

    Thank you for taking the time to watch our video and leave a comment. Thus far, we've offered 8 professional development (PD) programs in the last 4 years. Most of what we teach is covered in the first three days. To demonstrate that they understood what was taught, the teachers then have to build a functional exergame prototype in the next 1.5 days. I'm proud to say that every teacher team that has completed a TECHFIT PD has successfully presented a novel, working exergame by the afternoon of the fifth day! Having said that, however, it's important to acknowledge that the experience is much like an academic boot camp with days that go from 8am-5pm with daily homework and working lunches! Additionally, the subject areas of our teachers vary considerably. Even the teachers who have a tech-ed background are new to most/all of the content we cover.

     

    I could say that our successes are due to us being excellent instructors and having thorough ancillary written materials for our teachers, but the truth is that we've been blessed with outstanding middle school teacher participants who have positive, can-do attitudes who are eager to learn and willing to step outside of their comfort zone to learn what they must to be able to teach their students. They recognize the value of teaching STEM to their students, so they work hard to learn the concepts and work with the technology.

    The content includes: defining TECHFIT, programming in Scratch, programming in NanoNavigator, identifying various physical technology components, learning basic safety and wiring, exergame ideation and problem solving, what constitutes fitness. We teach the teachers over 5 packed days, and they take our provided model and adapt it to their unique school situation on the 6th day. When they leave, they have the knowledge, written materials, a technology toolkit, and hands-on experience to share and apply in their own classes/afterschool program at their schools. The students basically do the same things that their teachers did in the PD, but the students learn it over a longer period, so they have opportunities for more practice to build a deeper understanding. We remind the teachers that they don't have to be the experts in any of the technology, and we encourage them to use the technical support we offer via phone call, email, Skype, etc.

  • Icon for: Audrie Knight

    Audrie Knight

    K-12 Teacher
    May 14, 2018 | 12:16 p.m.

    Wow!  TECHFIT looks like a fantastic program to help motivate middle school students to be active, but also to help them feel more comfortable with the STEM subjects.  I hope it can come to New England soon.  I have brought this to the attention of our Science Department Head and our STEM teachers.

     
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    susan flynn
    Alka Harriger
  • Icon for: Alka Harriger

    Alka Harriger

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 04:02 p.m.

    Thank you for taking the time to watch our video and leave a comment. The applications for teachers is usually available in early spring. Our H&K partners would be especially excited to have New England schools part of a future TECHFIT cohort since they are from Boston. Drop me a line to request being added to our email list, so you can be among the first to know when the applications are open for 2019.

  • Icon for: Robert Zisk

    Robert Zisk

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 12:18 p.m.

    I really enjoyed the video, and it really does seem like the students are enjoying your program!. I am wondering what the learning curve is for students. While the equipment looks pretty straight forward, how much time do students get to understand how the equipment works, or is it more that the students know they have access to different components that can do x or y and then they have to figure out how to use those components in the context of inventing a game?

    I also wanted to ask about your data. After an engaging program such as this, I could see students being excited and I think it is great that so many students expressed interest in the STEM fields. However, since this program is focused on engineering, do you have any data on if students have a better understanding of what engineering is after completing the program? Sometimes I see a disconnect between students' understanding of engineering and their interest in STEM. 

     
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    Andrew Huang
    susan flynn
    Alka Harriger
  • Icon for: Alka Harriger

    Alka Harriger

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 04:03 p.m.


    Thanks for watching our video and taking the time to comment. We provide a model curriculum based on a minimum of 30 contact hours. At least half of that time is spent on covering essential content (defining TECHFIT, programming in Scratch, programming in NanoNavigator, identifying various physical technology components, learning basic safety and wiring, exergame ideation and problem solving, what constitutes fitness) with all students. Once all students have the basics, they begin working in subteams towards the team's shared goal of an exergame that is suitable for competition at the Showcase.


    Most of the data we collect addresses students' attitudes/motivation towards STEM careers; however, in our personal observations and from many teachers' comments, we believe the experience does aid student understanding of engineering.


  • Small default profile

    Ian O'Byrne

    Researcher
    May 15, 2018 | 08:00 a.m.

    TECHFIT is an amazing opportunity to help teachers and students collaboratively explore interest in the STEM fields. This intersection includes expertise in computer science, coding, and physical activity. Our students and classrooms of the future need opportunities like this to develop these valuable skillsets.

     
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    Andrew Huang
    Alka Harriger
    susan flynn
  • Icon for: Alka Harriger

    Alka Harriger

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 11:27 a.m.

    Thanks for watching our video and taking the time to comment. We wholeheartedly believe that the TECHFIT experience benefits students all across the curriculum and sets the stage for their future successes regardless of the career path they pursue (though we hope that many will pursue STEM, especially computing, technology, or engineering). The student feedback we've received also demonstrates that they believe that TECHFIT helped them perform better in their other subjects. We're working on ways to expand TECHFIT and welcome suggestions at anytime.

  • Icon for: susan flynn

    susan flynn

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 11:15 a.m.

    Thank you Ian.  

  • Icon for: Jessica Lehr

    Jessica Lehr

    Undergraduate Student
    May 15, 2018 | 11:56 a.m.

    Hello Alka, 

    Your project of TECHFIT is great for young learners and their confidence within the STEM areas. As I was reading other comments I have to agree that this is heavy on engineering and technology. However, I do see many ways that your project incorporates all subject’s areas. Your project is very interactive and hands on for students. This is important at such a young age, students who enjoy what they are learning will be more likely to be engaged. As education changes through the years, I’ve seen a lot of teachers move away from traditional teaching and to now project or problem-based learning. What are your thoughts on that? Also, I am majoring in Early Childhood Education, do you think that I could incorporate this into the younger grades of kindergarten to 4th grade? 

    This was a great video, thank you!

     
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    Alka Harriger
  • Icon for: Alka Harriger

    Alka Harriger

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 12:45 p.m.

    Thank you, Jessica, for watching our video and sharing your thoughts. TECHFIT employs both problem-based learning and project-based learning. Both approaches keep the students engaged throughout and build their confidence in subjects which they may not have been interested previously due to negative stereotypes, lack of confidence, ... Fortunately, after the experience, they realize that working in STEM can be fun, doable, rewarding, important, ....(almost endless list of benefits).

     

    We address some of the PBL disadvantages by having a hybrid approach: We combine standards-based, traditional education for teaching the essential content to all students with the PBL approach that provides hands-on experiences working with relevant tools to reinforce what was taught and experiment beyond the basics. After the essential content has been covered (about halfway to two-thirds of the way), the rest of the experience is PBL...students can begin working on their exergame project for possible presentation at our Showcase. At this point, students can contribute in their areas of strength and interest. Most teachers allow students to identify their top three subteams with reasons why, and then they make assignments to balance the teams while ensuring each student is able to work in one of his/her preferred areas. When kids get to play with technology and work collaboratively on solving problems by building creative solutions together, it makes the experience memorable and interesting for them.

     

    We'd love to bring opportunities like this to lower grades when kids are so thirsty for knowledge, but we feel that safety of the kids is a bigger concern in the lower grades: the students are working with 120V AC to power the microcontroller of their physical system. The programming tools we use, Scratch and nanoNavigator could potentially be used with younger kids. Basic wiring could also be introduced to the kids in a hands-on fashion, but only if the teacher was the only one who worked with the power side of the physical system, not the kids. There are other programs in place designed to introduce elementary children to STEM with similar tools in a safe way. I encourage you to investigate such opportunities.

     

    Best of luck in completing your degree and your future teaching career!

  • May 15, 2018 | 02:29 p.m.

    I like this a lot.  Is there a way that they can be adopted for informal science learning, or have you tried that?  Our project (#1181) relies on kids collaborating over the web, but it is outside of normal classroom settings.  Do you envision some way your curriculum materials can be adopted in these kinds of settings?  Thanks!

     
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    Alka Harriger
  • Icon for: Alka Harriger

    Alka Harriger

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 03:53 p.m.

    Thanks for watching our video and taking the time to comment. TECHFIT actually started out as an afterschool program for teams of middle school teachers (DRL#1312215). A few of our teachers implemented it as a class during school. We noticed a few advantages of running it during school as a class. That gave us the inspiration for the current project (DRL#1640178), which examines the impact on student motivation towards STEM/CT in three different contexts: afterschool, in-school as a class, and modules in core classes. We focused on the first two contexts thus far, and we'll be working on the modules for core classes this year. The TECHFIT curriculum for afterschool and in-school is essentially the same, but preliminary results have shown that in-school implementations tend to have better student attrition as well as enable us to reach more girls than the afterschool implementations do. I think both contexts are important and provide a means to attract students to subjects that may not be interested in or have access to experiment, learn, have fun, etc.

     

    We do provide each teacher with a 200+ page workbook with images and explanations on using all of the tools used in TECHFIT. It would be interesting to see how that could be used in a setting like yours. We're always open to ideas and suggestions to improve, expand, share.

  • Icon for: Jessica Hammer

    Jessica Hammer

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 03:27 p.m.

    Great video and great project! Can you tell me a bit about the opportunities and challenges of using exergames as opposed to having students build other kinds of interactions with the technology? How many different games do you typically have at your Showcase? Do you find that different classrooms generate diverse game ideas, or is there some degree of convergence across classrooms because instructors get the same training and materials? For that matter, how divergent are the mini-exergames that you have instructors create? Is divergence in design a goal (so that students feel more ownership) or are you fine if students converge on one or more common design patterns?

     
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    Loran Parker
    Alka Harriger
  • Icon for: Alka Harriger

    Alka Harriger

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 06:07 p.m.

    Thanks for watching our video and taking the time to comment. I'll try to answer your questions here, but also invite you to visit our website (https://techfit.tech.purdue.edu/) and watch some of the videos we have there. On the right side, we have videos of the most recent teacher PDs, so you can get an idea of the variety of exergames created by teachers in 1.5 days after 3 days of instruction.

     

    Using exergames as the application area for the STEM/CT learning that takes place in the summer PD and each school's implementation allows the project's instructional leaders to demonstrate how seemingly unrelated subjects can come together to create exciting, useful, fun projects. Our approach shows how diverse teams can use different skills to collaboratively create valuable products. Using exergames as the end product helps convey the message that STEM/CT skills equip one to build solutions to big societal problems, namely in our case, physical inactivity.

     

    To minimize problems that teachers may experience, we require a support letter from their school administrator and their tech support leader. These support letters confirm their understanding and commitment to their teachers to be able to implement TECHFIT at their schools. In the rare cases where a school didn't follow through on what the agreed to in the signed commitment letters, we offered to help the teacher negotiate with their school officials to provide what they agreed to provide; however, no one has taken us up on that offer...they are able to find a solution on their own.

     

    Another anticipated challenge for teachers is not knowing everything at an expert level; however, we remind the teachers multiple times that kids pick up what we teach much faster than adults, and that they should be encouraged to experiment and go past what we teach. We ask them to share things with us if they learn something beyond what we taught that could be of interest to others. We also provide technical support to cover as many of the school meetings as possible. Finally, we remind them throughout the PD that the best learning takes place through experimentation and failure. During instruction, we make purposeful mistakes and talk them through the troubleshooting process to make them more comfortable with encountering unexpected situations.

     

    Our Showcase is an all-day event that can handle no more than eight team presentations/demonstrations.We reserve three adjacent basketball gyms at Purdue's recreational sports center. Each team is assigned a space of about 30' x 30' with free space for the audience to observe. Each team shares their TECHFIT experience, explains their exergame visually through a Scratch animation, and demonstrate playing their physical exergame in their assigned space on the basketball floor. A panel of judges uses a software tool we created to evaluate each of the teams using published criteria. After all teams have completed their presentations, the judges have 20-30 minutes to finalize their reviews and name a winner. The TECHFIT leaders recognize all teams with certificates and medals. Finally, they announce the showcase winner selected by the panel of judges.

     

    We had considerably more schools last year than what we could handle in a one-day showcase, so we instituted a video showcase to select up to eight teams that had the greatest likelihood of having a winning exergame. The video showcase included a popular vote element that helped spread the word about TECHFIT quite broadly, so we'll continue that in future years. Though a few exergames may appear to be similar on the surface, the coding involved and the physical construction will likely be different.

     

    Many schools have used themes inspired through other classes taken by the students. For example, we had a group that was learning about the Mayan civilization. They created an exergame that revolved around what they learned, including a skull being used as a ball and a temple that had a sensor that detected when the skull was placed on top. Another school was learning about Greek and Roman culture, so they created an exergame involving competition between the Greeks and Romans. Their created structures that looked like Greek/Roman architecture and weaved it into their game. Another teams had been reading Maze Runner and built a maze with stations that depicted various elements from that story.

     

    The exergame criteria are shared with the teachers in advance, so they can see that creativity is part of the overall assessment. Over the past four years, we've found that most of our teachers are themselves very creative, and their students are equally, if not more, creative! From my observations, all of the students are incredibly proud of what they created, as they should be. Many of them are also eager to continue the experience and/or build on what they've done. We continue to evolve and enhance the experience for our teachers and their students, so we welcome ideas and suggestions anytime!

     
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    Mary Moore
  • May 16, 2018 | 03:15 p.m.

    The exergames are so clever, and the integration of cultural content is very well done. How else has TECHFIT integrated student identity and culture?

     
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    Loran Parker
  • Icon for: Alka Harriger

    Alka Harriger

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 05:27 p.m.

    We do not address subjects of student identity and culture in our instructional delivery to teachers during the summer PD or in the materials we share. What you are seeing and noticing related to cultural content is entirely due to the students and teachers. The outstanding mentoring by inspiring and selfless teachers has allowed their students creativity to flourish in the process of exergame design and implementation.

  • Small default profile

    Will III

    Funder
    May 16, 2018 | 10:47 a.m.

    This is a great program that actively engages students with programming & automation skills!

    We really enjoy working with the program to provide automation components and sensors and see the creative ways students apply their programming & automation creativity to have fun and see how great STEM careers can be.

     
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    Alka Harriger
  • Icon for: Alka Harriger

    Alka Harriger

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 11:04 a.m.

    Thank you Will and Balluff for the support you've given to TECHFIT for the past four years. The generous donations have allowed our teachers and their students to experiment with technology in a fun way. Your guest presentations during all of our past PDs have accomplished two important things for our teachers:

    1. Our teachers learned the many possible application scenarios for the various types of sensors that could be used in their exergame inventions.
    2. Inspiration on the impact combining STEM and fitness can have.

    Your active involvement on the Showcase judging panel, including the challenging questions you ask students during Showcase, help us to not only identify the winning team, but more importantly reinforce the importance of STEM. Finally, your involvement on our advisory board challenges us to examine what we've done and to continually improve the program.

     

    Thank you for everything you've done to help strengthen the impact of TECHFIT!

     

  • Icon for: Kinnari Atit

    Kinnari Atit

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 16, 2018 | 07:25 p.m.

    Hi Alka, 

    Have you done any longitudinal research on these students? Do students who participate in techfit go on to taking more STEM classes in the future? Or higher-level STEM classes in high school? I would be interested to see if the effect of your project in middle school extends onto future education levels. 

     

    Kinnari 

  • Icon for: Alka Harriger

    Alka Harriger

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 10:43 a.m.

    Thanks for taking the time to watch our video and ask important questions. In the first three years, students completed pre-program surveys before beginning TECHFIT at their schools at the start of the school year. Although the TECHFIT program concluded in mid-December, the post-program survey was administered to students close to the end of the school year in April-May. With responses from 739 students, 90.9% said that TECHFIT increased their interest in technology and engineering careers, and 89.6% attributed their TECHFIT participation to an increased interest in a science, technology, or engineering career. Having longitudinal data would be valuable; however, our IRB protocol doesn't include longitudinal data collection. Nonetheless, unsolicited feedback from several of our teachers suggests that TECHFIT has indeed steered at least some students towards STEM who they wouldn't have expected to follow a  STEM career path.

  • May 16, 2018 | 07:26 p.m.

    Exciting, innovative project!  I especially appreciate the connection of STEM and fitness.

  • Icon for: Alka Harriger

    Alka Harriger

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 10:57 a.m.

    Thank you, Bridget, for watching our video and sharing your comment about the connection of fitness and STEM.

  • Small default profile

    Marcella Gray

    May 17, 2018 | 12:57 p.m.

    This is a great video! I personally agree that more middle grades children should be exposed to this opportunity.

  • Icon for: Alka Harriger

    Alka Harriger

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 01:36 p.m.

    Thanks for watching and sharing your comment, Marcella :)

  • Icon for: susan flynn

    susan flynn

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 01:03 p.m.

    thank you Marcella.  

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.