the workshop
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Including Stanford faculty and leaders in the field such as our collaborators at the Concord Consortium, we propose to convene a requirements analysis and design workshop on the prospective educational needs of environmental sensor networks that could be used for learning and educational purposes at the pre-college and college levels. We aim to leverage the collective of work going on using sensors and probes in science education at multiple educational levels, in both not-for-profit organization research and industry. This work would set the stage for establishing next steps toward defining projects for collaborative work under the Media X Network arrangements with Stanford faculty, or in other co-development projects to be defined with Stanford faculty and partners in other organizations.

We have considerable interest in considering the types of sensors described by OAS (Omron) as possible directions for this effort in sensor networks, including cameras and vision sensing, seismic, NO2, CO2, pollen count, water quality, suspended particles, habitat monitoring, microclimates, and contaminant flow. Our workshop will include demo and review from Omron researchers of the range of sensors they currently manufacture or consider promising directions for development, as well as current best practices in the field of using sensors and probes in science education. We'd also consider other sensors than light, touch, that could be used in a programmable sensors/smart bricks kind of approach like that developed by Resnick-Martin (MIT) and Eisenberg (U. Colorado).

In our workshop, we would brainstorm important kinds of educational scenarios that meet criteria such as:

  • meeting significant learning needs (important national and state learning standards in K-12), not simply "supplemental activities";
  • being tremendously engaging in tapping issues and concerns that learners at these age ranges care about, and where sensor networks could serve important public concerns (e.g., biodiversity, habitat preservation, safety from pollutants in the home or school, water quality, air quality, ozone depletion);
  • novelty with respect to current uses of sensors or probes in education or have dramatic prospects for reductions in cost, usability, and other factors;
  • promising nature in terms of potentialy leading to compelling NSF grants that study their use in testbeds of schools and assess teacher needs and learning outcomes;

We expect the group to be convened to be about 30 in number which is an appropriate size for the creative process to be best achieved in our work. We have provided a carefully-considered list below of participants and can provide more detail on backgrounds and rationale as needed.

How the project relates to a larger program of research

Following this year one workshop and user requirements analysis and scenarios brainstorming, we would aim to identify as a group the most productive directions for continued Stanford-Omron collaborations in terms of prototype system development and "testbed" work with learners at various levels and in partnership with schools and other institutions. We can foresee substantial concept, scenario, prototype and product development for the sensors and sensor networks viewed as most productive for the science educational applications.