Middle school robotics camp: Stem skills findings among girls and boys
Niyati Kottury, Nirav Kottury, John Leddo
Previous research on the several robotic camps was published in discovering the common factors contributing to the lower participation of girls and minorities in embracing STEM fields. There is a lot of research published in the factors that drive the participation of girls in STEM events, such as robotics camps, and affect their performance in the same activities compared to boys, along with the instruction model that supports a controlled environment for both boys and girls. A pilot study of 17 middle school students (6 girls and 11 boys) between grades 6 and 8 was conducted to determine the factors that drive registration for the event, and the findings were gathered via qualitative and quantitative assessments over a period of 10 weeks. The robotics camp was conducted with Parallax Boe-Bots (robots) that use a non-GUI based programming language called PBASIC, which teaches the students mechanical assembly with hardware and electrical components, software coding skills, and system level troubleshooting. Results showed that in a learning environment, contrary to a competitive environment, girls performed at the same level as boys in the mechanical assembly, software coding (which takes into account basic coding), advanced programming skills, and system level troubleshooting. A learning environment with a lower student to coach ratio (coach: student - 1:2) helped students adapt and learn simple to complex tasks seamlessly. Students and parents played an equally important role in having Students sign up for the robotics camp and see value in pursuing a STEM career.