Collaboration Brings New Way to Teach STEM


Taking a different approach to STEM education, Yale SEAS recently teamed up with colleagues at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. 

The CEID recently worked with colleagues at the Technion to run a teaching workshop that explores a new method for STEM education. The workshop made use of RoboPhysics, a program that provides a hands-on way to teach AP physics by combining data acquisition software, a small robotic platform and Android phones. The Technion uses this method of education throughout Israel to attract leading students to participate in the Technion. 

Three students' teams at the CEID worked in real time with Ofer Danino and Dr. Gidon Kaplan who conducted the training from Haifa Israel. Working on site at the CEID were two Israeli team members, Moshe Lahav and Dr. Nira Krumholtz, head of the "IDEA Center,” the education developing arm of Israeli company Phantom II Ltd. The Idea Center was established at the Technion and later affiliated to the Faculty of Engineering at Tel-Aviv University.

The six-year program is for students from junior high school and up. It began six years ago by a group of engineers and teachers, based on their own experience as students. They wanted to create a way of learning that was more hands on than what they had as students - one that combined physics, math, engineering and science. Lahav said he thought Yale would be a great partner.  

“I called SEAS Deputy Dean Vincent Wilczynski and suggested that we do the same thing at Yale University,” Lahav said. “I said ‘It will help you recruit students from all the schools in the United States.’ That led to the idea of running a workshop with our students in the CEID. That started with the corporation organizing a three-day workshop with the students.” 

Physics is typically taught with a series of equations and lab experiments, each conducted separately. Technion, though, has integrated these two components with RoboPhysics, a software and hardware product designed to engage students in physics instruction that incorporates the newest developments in sensor technology, artificial intelligence, and Bluetooth. At Technion, they used it with to show this new form of education to students throughout Israel. At the same time, they were finding the best students and bringing them into Technion.

“The group at Technion has developed an innovative way to do hands-on, team-based open-ended problem solving to teach advanced physics topics,” said Wilczynski, director of the CEID. This, he said, makes it a great match for the CEID. “The CEID is always on the lookout and excited about finding new ways to innovate and, in this case, new ways of learning,” he said, adding that the program involves sensors, computer science, AI, team-based learning, and open-ended problem solving - all things the CEID is known for. “We welcomed this chance to partner with colleagues at Technion to investigate and see if there’s room for further collaboration.”

Krumholtz said that many students learn mathematics wondering how it has anything to do with real life. RoboPhysics shows them.

“It’s another way of learning other than listening to lectures,” she said. “It’s solving problems, running projects and finding solutions to situations, which is real life. In real life, you have a problem or a situation that you try to find a solution to.”