The AMP-IT-UP instructional materials are grounded in a problem-based learning (PBL) model of instruction. PBL is a cognitive-apprenticeship approach with roots in medical school training. During PBL-based instruction, students work collaboratively to solve problems, thereby learning in a group setting as well as individually. Students identify what they know and what they need to learn more about, plan how they will learn more, conduct research, and deliberate over the findings together in an attempt to move through and solve a challenge or problem. There is a large amount of research extolling the benefits of curriculum and learning experiences rooted in PBL. These studies have found that PBL affords: more active learning of content; the development of problem-solving skills; increased ownership in learning; greater understanding of the nature of the scientific endeavor; more flexible thinking; improved collaboration skills; and opportunities for students to gain expertise in STEM.
The AMP-IT-UP STEM-ID courses will build upon GT’s and GSCS’s experiences designing and implementing the 8th grade sequence of integrated STEM exploratory courses as part of the Georgia RT3. These 18-week PBL engineering courses present students with a design challenge based on research at Georgia Tech, where each challenge relies heavily on applied mathematics and science concepts. Students must learn STEM content, and then design (using Solidworks 3-D visualization software) and manufacture (using a Stratasys uPrint 3D Printer) a new LEGO-compatible plastic part that will enable their LEGO Mindstorm robot design to complete the challenge.