Robots, GPS/GIS, and Programming Technologies: The Power of "Digital Manipulatives" in Youth Extension Experiences

B. S. Barker, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Neal Grandgenett, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Gwen Nugent, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Viacheslav I. Adamchuk, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Published in the Journal of Extension, 48(1), February 2010. Copyright © 2010 The Journal of Extension. Used by permission.


The study reported here examined the effectiveness of educational robotics combined with GPS/GIS technologies used as "digital manipulatives" in the teaching of concepts in science, engineering, and technology. Based on the success of previous summer camps, the study also examined a scaling-up of the intervention from 38 participants to 147. The 147 youth (ages 10-15) participated in one of six summer camps held in Nebraska during 2008. Results indicate that participants scored higher on the content posttest than the pretest. The study further examined the differential results. The article makes recommendations for further studies, while acknowledging the potential power of digital manipulatives.