Applied Research Innovations in Science and Engineering (ARISE) begins with students participating in two workshops. Dimensions of Scientific Inquiry explores scientific research, history, methods and ethics. Basic Robotics to Inspire Scientific Knowledge is a series of interactive exercises that test mathematical and engineering concepts. Here, comments from students about the experience over the first three days.
Maria: “In Basic Robotics to Inspire Scientific Knowledge (BRISK), we’re learning to build and program robots using LEGO Mindstorm kits. Yesterday, we completed building dual-motor bots, a step forward from the single-motor brick from the previous day’s build in that the second motor allows turning.
The method is similar to the mechanism behind tank movement: power one motor for a swing turn, both in different directions for a pivot turn, and both in the same direction for forward or backward movement. In programming the movement, we calculated the distance covered by one rotation of the wheel — one length of the circumference — and changed the number of rotations in each command according to the distance desired. Calculating the logistics of turning was just a matter of determining the circumference, or portion of the circumference, of the turn. In a swing turn, the circumference is found using the “track” (the distance from wheel to wheel) as the radius. In a pivot turn, the track is the diameter. Once we had learned all the logistics of programming basic movements — forward, backward, turning — we began experimenting with commands. Our main objective today was to have the bot write out the first letter of our names with an attached writing implement. After a fair amount of trial and error, much to my satisfaction and excitement, I finally succeeded with the bot writing out an M, though it may have been somewhat curly-tipped.”
Rockella: “For the past few days in Dimensions of Scientific Inquiry we have been discussing the integrity of scientific findings, and the role gender and race play in STEM fields. In my past experiences I have always trusted the word of scientists greater than I. Most of my perception was based off of what i’d read in articles or textbooks about chemistry and physics. After almost 17 years of trusting science completely I found out that many of the research papers we hold to be indisputable truths may actually be wrong. That revelation was a little earth shattering. If I wasn’t already sitting down I would have had to. I enjoyed the dose of reality at the same time, because it got me thinking about everything I’ve ever known about everything. It was a little overwhelming.
Today we discussed the roles that gender and race play in STEM fields, a subject that hits quite close to home for me. As a female who wants to go into STEM I meet a lot more scorn and adversary than I should in today’s day and age. I was worried going into the lecture that the discussion it would spark would be very controversial. It was actually quite nice to get to talk to a group of people my age with different backgrounds, ethnicity, genders, and sexuality about the STEM field in a polite manner. The discussion did get a bit heated at one point but it was more towards the ideas of misogyny and racism rather than at each other. This class didn’t seem like it would be as much fun as the robotics course, but it’s actually much more inspiring and enjoyable than I ever imagined. Getting to know people through scientific and historical discussion is probably the best way to get to know people that I’ve ever experienced!”
Jason: “Dr. Brendan Matz’s Dimensions of Scientific Inquiry workshop engages students in a study of science’s application in the real world and the social, political, cultural, and economic effect it has on the world. Compared to science classes taught in public school, which do not go beyond the core materials of science, such as biology, physics, and chemistry, the workshop reveals the humanities side of science to students. Some of the material discussed include gender and social inequality in science, the funding of science, and the way the scientific community operates. Science on the professional level involves research in the lab and publishing papers to share with the scientific community. Dimensions of Scientific Inquiry creates awareness of these principles of science to high school students. I am confident this unique and informative workshop will have a beneficial impact during my time working in the CATT lab during the latter part ARISE program.”
Troy: ““Dimensions of Scientific Inquiry is an unrivaled educational experience. Through this workshop, I learned about the impact of science in the real world: how and why science matters in the world. For me, there are two highlights of the workshop thus far. The first is bringing light to present and historical issues facing the scientific community, something that is not covered in a high school science course. The second highlight is putting scientific research and breakthroughs into perspective with society. Some topics covered in the course include how research papers are published in scientific journals, false positives and negatives, funding, and gender/racial inequality in the world of science Professor Brendan Matz does an excellent job at both teaching the course and engaging the students. I honestly enjoy attending the workshop and look forward to coming back tomorrow.”