Global Learning Charter Public School (GLCPS) is an urban secondary school located in the city of New Bedford, Massachusetts. GLCPS educates students in grades 5–12. It is a Title I school with over 74% of the student population on free and reduced lunch. Historically, only 60% of students graduating from New Bedford move on to postsecondary education. It is the goal of our school to change this and increase the number of students entering post secondary education and more specifically to increase their interest in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) fields.
GLCPS provides a unique educational experience where students demonstrate academic excellence and mastery of essential skills. These skills include: technology literacy, public speaking, global citizenship and arts exploration. Incorporation of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) is a continued goal for our school. After attending teacher educator training/professional development in engineering-based learning (EBL), we decided to create a robotics course, which fully embedded EBL into the curriculum. The goal of this robotics course is two fold: 1) Combine engineering, math, science, and art/creativity into one course; and 2) engineering-based learning can impact the way students learn STEAM principles, retain STEAM theory, and apply them to real world, relevant applications.
The purpose of this paper is to illustrate how engineering-based learning inspired and impacted the development of a robotics course in an urban, financially disadvantaged, secondary charter school. Specifically, we detail how the principles and tools of the engineering-based learning pedagogy affected the development and implementation of this robotics course. Lastly, we will demonstrate how EBL and the robotics course have changed student perceptions of science, engineering, and math.