About NSF RET-Site Program:

Collaborative Learning Through Real-Time Embedded System Design

Overview: Rapid advances in embedded systems present significant opportunities for fundamental change in education, at all levels, with a greater focus on active, collaborative learning. These advances can be exploited by integrating them into the elementary and middle school curriculums and by having students work in teams to develop innovative new solutions to embedded design problems.

In the future, it will be critical to attract an even more diverse pool of students into education and engineering to design and implement all types of engineered systems, including real-time embedded systems. In order to attract these talented students into engineering, we believe that it is important to engage them in the engineering process at an early age before high school. Consequently, the focus of this program is on upper elementary and middle school teachers.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Kansas State University (KSU) a three year continuing award (*) to support a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) Site Program on real-time embedded system design. Ten upper elementary and/or middle school teachers from both urban and rural schools in Kansas or adjacent metropolitan areas will be selected to participate in this four-week summer research program. The primary goal of this program is to bring knowledge of engineering to the elementary and middle school classroom by involving teachers in engineering research. Beyond professional development, this program strives to develop stronger partnerships between Kansas State University and local school districts.

The focus of this program is on the design and implementation of real-time embedded systems. Teachers have the opportunity to work on research projects in the lab and to further their professional development by developing specialized sensors and actuators, programming Lego MINDSTORMS(TM) robots using Java, and developing comprehensive, complete "science fair" projects using hardware and software components developed on campus. Participants participate in active lectures during the morning sessions, followed by hands-on laboratories during the afternoon sessions. Admission to the program is competitive. To apply, simply complete an application form and submit it together with two reference letters. Refer to the application form for more details.

Program Dates: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm, Monday-Friday, June 6, 2005 - July 1, 2005.

Program Location: 256 Bluemont Hall (8:30 am - 12:30 pm), and BAE Electronics Laboratory, 134C Seaton Hall (1:30-4:30). See map. For the first day, you can pick up a visitor pass from the Visitor Center Booth just southwest of the Student Union. Then, park in a faculty/staff/student parking spot -- do not park in Reserved Parking or Metered Parking. There will likely be spaces available in the southeast lot labeled PARKING on the map. The morning session will begin promptly at 8:30 am on Monday. It is a short stroll from the parking lot. Please plan to arrive a few minutes early. Coffee and donuts will be served!

Optional Course Credits: Courses are offered through the College of Education, Department of Foundations and Adult Education, at Kansas State University. There will be a complete list of courses available at K-State for the Summer 2005 Session. Participants may receive up to 6 course credits through the RET-Site Program. These credits are divided into two courses with 3 course credits each.

  • TBD Enrollment restrictions: Instructor Permission.
  • TBD Enrollment restrictions: Instructor Permission.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: If you are currently enrolled in a graduate program at KSU, you may simply complete online enrollment.

If you are not currently enrolled, and plan to enroll for credit as a non- degree graduate student, and/or would like information on enrolling for a graduate school program, please contact Kevin Kramer (kkramer@ksu.edu) for assistance and information in submitting an application for graduate study at KSU.

Non-degree graduate students are those students who do not plan to work for an advanced degree, and may be admitted to the Graduate School as non-degree students. Applications from such students should be sent to the program in which they plan to take courses, together with a copy of the official transcript from the institution which granted the undergraduate degree. A non-degree seeking student who later wishes to enter a degree program must undergo the full application and admission review process. No more than 9 semester hours earned as a non-degree student may be transferred into a regular degree program.

In all cases, applications are initially reviewed by the program, which forwards to the Graduate School those recommended for admission. Students are admitted officially only by the Graduate School.

On-Campus Housing: On-Campus Guest housing is available during the summer. Last year (2004), the on-campus room rate was $20/person/night for double-occupancy and $27/night for single-occupancy. Meals are optional, pay-as-you-go or approximately $16/day. Dining is also available in nearby Aggieville or in the K-State Student Union. Here is some additional information from Phil Schlee (schlee@housing.k-state.edu) : Here were the summer contract rates for those who received credit for the class. Participants need to sign a summer contract and will be housed on the lower floors of Moore Hall.

The 4-week (room and board) per person rates: $940 (single) or $628 (double).

Participants can contact KSU Housing and Dining Services at 785-532-6453.

Other options for summer housing include checking the K-State Collegian for ads for summer rentals or subleases. These can come furnished and unfurnished. If you have someone from the summer class you know or would like to room with and share expenses, this works out to be fairly inexpensive.

Check the web site or download a .pdf file of the current ads.

If you have any other questions, feel free to contact Mitchell Neilsen, Program Coordinator, at (neilsen@cis.ksu.edu) or (785) 532-6350.

Summary: To provide an entry level that is attractive to both upper elementary and middle school teachers, our initial focus is on the Lego Mindstorms(TM) Robotics Invention System, object-oriented programming, and simple embedded sensors and actuators. These designs naturally motivate both teachers and students to acquire a much deeper understanding of the underlying mathematics (including logic, geometry, algebra, and discrete mathematics) and science (including measurement, the scientific process, and physics). In addition to working on simple embedded control systems, participants also work with graduate research students and faculty members on more complex real-time embedded systems in the lab during their summer on campus. In this way, participants gain a deeper understanding of embedded system design. They also have many new practical skills that they can put to use in their own classrooms immediately.

Teachers spend a total of four weeks on campus, followed by active participation in the Kansas Robotics League during the following year. This project involves the active participation of ten elementary and middle school teachers from both rural and urban areas in Kansas, and provides participants with the tools and knowledge necessary to feel confident as resources for students and other teachers.

(*) This program is funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant No. 0227709. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.