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Using DIME maps and STEM project-based learning to teach physics

Michael S. Rugh (Aggie STEM, Texas A&M University College Station, College Station, Texas, USA)
Donald J. Beyette (Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Texas A&M University College Station, College Station, Texas, USA)
Mary Margaret Capraro (Aggie STEM, Texas A&M University College Station, College Station, Texas, USA)
Robert M. Capraro (Aggie STEM, Texas A&M University College Station, College Station, Texas, USA)

Interactive Technology and Smart Education

ISSN: 1741-5659

Article publication date: 7 April 2021

Issue publication date: 1 December 2021

362

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine a week-long science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) project-based learning (PBL) activity that integrates a new educational technology and the engineering design process to teach middle and high school students the concepts involved in rotational physics. The technology and teaching method described in this paper can be applied to a wide variety of STEM content areas.

Design/methodology/approach

As an educational technology, the dynamic and interactive mathematical expressions (DIME) map system automatically generates an interactive, connected concept map of mathematically based concepts extracted from a portable document format textbook chapter. Over five days, students used DIME maps to engage in meaningful self-guided learning within the engineering design process and STEM PBL.

Findings

Using DIME maps within a STEM PBL activity, students explored the physics behind spinning objects, proposed multiple creative designs and built a variety of spinners to meet specified criteria and constraints.

Practical implications

STEM teachers can use DIME maps and STEM PBL to support their students in making connections between what they learn in the classroom and real-world scenarios.

Social implications

For any classroom with computers, tablets or phones and an internet connection, DIME maps are an accessible educational technology that provides an alternative representation of knowledge for learners who are underserved by traditional methods of instruction.

Originality/value

For STEM teachers and education researchers, the activity described in this paper uses advances in technology (DIME maps and slow-motion video capture on cell phones) and pedagogy (STEM PBL and the engineering design process) to enable students to engage in meaningful learning.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Drs Luciana Barroso, Mary Margaret Capraro, Robert M. Capraro and the Aggie STEM team for providing the data used for this study.

Citation

Rugh, M.S., Beyette, D.J., Capraro, M.M. and Capraro, R.M. (2021), "Using DIME maps and STEM project-based learning to teach physics", Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 553-573. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITSE-07-2020-0109

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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