|M.Sc Student||Saad Doaa|
|Subject||Robotics Experimentation of Ninth Graders for the|
Development of Motivation to Study High School
|Department||Department of Education in Science and Technology||Supervisor||Professor Igor Verner|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
The education systems worldwide seek for ways to make school physics more attractive for middle school students. Many studies evaluated students' attitudes towards physics and their opinions about the value of the knowledge of physics. The recommendations on how to increase students’ interest in physics are: to expose the students to the subject early in an experiential and enjoyable way; create a sense of success, and emphasize the contribution of physics studies to the future. This study aims to develop students’ interest in physics, and shape their perception of physics as a subject they would like to study in the future. We placed physics in the context of technology, enabling students to combine learning physics with experience in robotics. We chose to teach physics in a robotic environment because robotics has become a valuable tool to support STEM education and develop cognitive and social skills of students of all ages. The study focused on middle school seniors, before they choose major high school subjects. An outreach workshop "Physical Experiments in a Robotic Environment" was given at the Technion Center for Pre-University Education to 27 ninth graders. Another workshop was given to 25 ninth graders in a comprehensive school. The students learned physical concepts such as force, velocity, acceleration, power, etc. through experimental activities in a robotic environment.
The educational study followed up the workshop and the research questions were:
1. How the students developed an understanding of the importance of physics as a basis for solving practical problems?
2. How does students' experience contribute to the development of learning skills required in physics studies?
3. Is there a change in the students' attitudes towards the studies of physics?
To answer question 1, we analyzed learning worksheets in which the students reported the learned physical principles and their implementations in the robotic experiments. We also administered a post-workshop questionnaire asking about students perceptions of the importance of physics for robotics. To answer question 2, we analyzed the worksheets in which the students documented their experiential learning activities, looking at how the activities led to the acquisition of new physical concepts. We also conducted a questionnaire to find out physical concepts that the students encountered during the workshop.To answer question 3, we conducted before and after the workshop a questionnaire on their choice regarding the physics studies in high school and compared the results.
The practical importance of this study is that it deals with a real problem of directing middle school students to physics studies. The proposed approach is based on experiential learning activities in a robotic environment. The developed workshop can be a part of larger enrichment programs in robotics. Regarding the theoretical contribution, the study adds to the discussion on possible ways to develop students' positive perceptions of physics as a learning subject. While the literature recommendations are based on disciplinary models, our research shows the feasibility of developing these positive perceptions through learning activities in the robotic environment.