LEGOEngineering: How a Little Plastic is Changing K-16 Engineering Education
Speaker: Chris Rogers, Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach
Series: Other Events
Date/Time: Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Over the last 15 years, members of the Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach have been working with LEGO Education to bring engineering to all students through LEGO Mindstorms. I will talk about the education theory behind the product, highlighting some of our joint research efforts to understand how the brain acquires, retains, and accesses engineering knowledge. I will then show what kids all over the world have engineered - from kindergarten to graduate school. It has been exciting to see students around the world (from China to New Zealand to Luxembourg to South Africa) all learning to stop following directions and to start engineering. I will end with a demo of the new LEGO robot - the ev3 - due out later this year. I recommend bringing your kids (and I recommend they bring their latest LEGO invention).
Chris got all three of his degrees at Stanford Univ., where he worked with John Eaton on his thesis looking at particle motion in a boundary layer flow. From Stanford, he went to Tufts as a faculty member, where he has been for the last million years, with a few exceptions. His first sabbatical was spent at Harvard and a local kindergarten looking at methods of teaching engineering. He spent half a year in New Zealand on a Fulbright Scholarship looking at 3D reconstruction of flame fronts to estimate heat fluxes. In 2002-3 he was at Princeton as the Kenan Professor of Distinguished Teaching where he played with underwater robots, wind tunnels, and LEGO bricks. In 2006-7, he spent the year at ETH in Zurich playing with very very small robots and measuring the lift force on a fruit fly. He received the 2003 NSF Directors Distinguished Teaching Scholar Award for excellence in both teaching and research. Chris is involved in several different research areas: particle-laden flows (a continuation of his thesis), telerobotics and controls, slurry flows in chemical-mechanical planarization, the engineering of musical instruments, measuring flame shapes of couch fires, measuring fruit-fly locomotion, and in elementary school engineering education. His work has been funded by numerous government organizations and corporations, including the NSF, NASA, Intel, Boeing, Cabot, Steinway, Selmer, National Instruments, Raytheon, Fulbright, and the LEGO Corporation. His work in particle-laden flows led to the opportunity to fly aboard the NASA 0g experimental aircraft. He has flown over 700 parabolas without getting sick.
Chris also has a strong commitment to teaching, and at Tufts has started a number of new directions, including learning robotics with LEGO bricks and learning manufacturing by building musical instruments. He was awarded the Carnegie Professor of the Year in Massachusetts in 1998 and is currently the director of the Center for Engineering Education Outreach (www.ceeo.tufts.edu). His teaching work extends to the elementary school, where he talks with over 1000 teachers around the world every year on ways of bringing engineering into the younger grades. He has worked with LEGO to develop ROBOLAB, a robotic approach to learning science and math. ROBOLAB has already gone into over 50,000 schools worldwide and has been translated into 15 languages. He has been invited to speak on engineering education in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the UK, and in the US. He works in various classrooms once a week, although he has been banned from recess for making too much noise.
Most importantly, he has three kids - all brilliant - who are responsible for most of his research interests and efforts.