Investigating the Educational Impact of Community-Based Robotics Programs on Low-Income Youth

Eric Flaningam, Hanna Keyerleber, Chris Embry, and Dr. Jason Ware, Honors College, Purdue University, 1101 3rd Street, West Lafayette, IN 47906

Low-income and minority students are widely underrepresented within STEM programs. This disparity is evident throughout all grade levels and the trend carries through to the workforce, where low-income and minority students enter STEM occupations at a lower rate than their peers from other demographics. Several STEM programs have been developed within schools to address the gap, but previous research has demonstrated that low-income students have a lower participation rate in academic STEM programming. The Ware Research Group has prior experience in studying low-income communities. Previously, the research team looked at STEM teaching and education from within the classroom. The results suggested issues within the school in terms of the learning environments and how they engaged their students. This study is investigating how FIRST LEGO League, an established STEM program, can affect low-income and minority student engagement when conducted in a community-based setting. The research team has established two FIRST LEGO League teams in local community centers serving low-income neighborhoods within Lafayette, IN. Participating students range in age from 9-14 and come from primarily minority demographics within the community. Acting as instructors, the research team is engaging students in action-based projects which rely on the use and development of technical, teamwork, and critical thinking skills. The study, thus far, has collected qualitative data on the students’ skills. Observations are based on student growth and educational outcomes focused on technical skills and abilities, critical thinking, communication, and teamwork. Community-based STEM programs may improve low-income and minority student representation in STEM programs and fields. Furthermore, the study could provide a resource for developing similar community-based STEM programming. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenters: Eric Flaningam, Hanna Keyerleber, Chris Embry

Institution: Purdue University Main Campus

Type: Poster

Subject: Interdisciplinary Studies

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 8
Date/Time: Tue 5:00pm-6:00pm
Session Number: 5517