Conference Paper

Collaborative Research: Center for Mobile Hands-On STEM

Conference: ASEE


Hands-on activities are an essential part of the learning experience for STEM students to
demonstrate theoretical concepts in practice and to connect students with the experimental
component of our STEM disciplines. Historically, these activities were relegated to structured
experiments conducted during formal lab courses in limited access, centralized laboratories
utilizing expensive equipment and requiring extensive support infrastructure. In recent years, the
ready availability of portable, low-cost, experimental platforms (e.g. standalone systems like
LEGO NXT kits and electronic measurement systems that connect to laptops through USB ports
like the Analog Discovery design kit from Digilent and the myDAQ data acquisition device from
National Instruments) is making it possible to fundamentally change the educational experience
we can deliver to our students. These new tools can help create a ubiquitous hands-on learning
environment anywhere and anytime: at desks in a traditional classroom, in a dorm room, in a
study group setting, at a coffee shop, etc. These small, mobile experiments allow for a new
pedagogical model that opens new avenues for inquiry-based learning of fundamental concepts,
experimental concepts and skills, and give students experience in system level design and

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Available from: Kenneth A Connor,