WaterBotics is designed to be implemented in formal classroom environments, such as regular in-school, science or technology courses, as well as informal, out-of-school settings, such as summer camps or after-school programs. Each of these educational environments presents different opportunities and challenges. The following stories showcase implementations of WaterBotics in different environments. They are based on interviews conducted with the educators responsible for the implementation. When conducting the interviews, several themes repeatedly surfaced:
Theme 1: The curriculum was effective in developing self-confidence, problem-solving, and persistence. This comment was made repeatedly by classroom teachers and informal educators alike and by those who worked with both girls and boys.
Theme 2: Students were often observed mentoring and/or teaching other students. Students were also effective in problem-solving in situations where the instructor was unfamiliar with the content, especially for computer programming tasks. Several camp organizers brought back WaterBotics camp graduates as mentors/assistants in subsequent camps.
Theme 3: Recruitment of girls faced two challenges: A frequent comment heard during the educator interviews was, “Parents did not see the benefit for girls attending.” But in other instances, girls were sent to a WaterBotics camp by their parents against their wishes. Many of the same educators observed early resistance by some girls gave way to "a complete 180 degree turn-around!" This suggests that interventions designed to change parental attitudes may be needed to further increase participant diversity.
The stories may be accessed below or by downloading the paper WaterBotics: A Novel Engineering Design Curriculum for Formal and Informal Educational Settings.