The Toying With Technology program at Iowa State University was initiated during the 1996-97 academic year through a Miller Fellowship awarded to Dr. Larry Genalo (MSE) and Dr. Charles Wright (ECprE- deceased). The main idea driving this course was to offer a technology literacy class aimed at students, particularly education majors, who are in non-technical fields but want an appreciation for the technological innovations that surround them. This course was created to introduce students to aspects of science, engineering, and technology. It does so through a collection of hands-on laboratory experiences based upon simple systems constricted out of LEGOs and controlled by small microcomputers. These laboratory experiences are designed to lead students, literally by their hands-on experimentation, through the use of technology in support of many everyday activities. These lab experiences are simple enough to isolate and illuminate the underlying basic principles and yet complex enough to represent real-world examples.
The Toying With Technology program had expanded considerably to include not only courses for education students but also outreaches for K-12 students and teachers. These outreaches which are one to two hours in length, are given to groups visiting campus and are also presented at K-12 schools around the state. Consequently, participation in Toying With Technology activities has increased dramatically. Enrollment in the technology literacy course has more than doubled. On-campus outreaches have increased to one per week, and numerous off-campus outreaches are conducted during the summer as well as the academic year. This growth is expected to continue as the program gains visibility. In addition, a graduate level two-credit course is being offered on the summer. An important feature of the Toying With Technology program is its heavy reliance on students in designing and conducting outreaches.
From Course Catalog:
CPR E 370. Toying with Technology.
(Cross-listed with MAT E). (2-2) Cr. 3. F.S. Prereq: C I 201 or C I 202
A project-based, hands-on learning course. Technology literacy, appreciation for technological innovations, principles behind many technological innovations, hands-on laboratory experiences based upon simple systems constructed out of LEGOs and controlled by small microcomputers. Future K-12 teachers will leave the course with complete lesson plans for use in their upcoming careers.