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First round evaluation of first tech challenge (FTC) robotics club: Does it really prepare students for beyond college?.

F Ozis, A D Newley, E Kaya

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It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the shift in careers requiring 21st century skills. Schools around the country are striving to prepare students for the competitive and demanding job market after college. As a way to assist students for this shift, there are in-depth discussions about the benefits of project-based learning, methods for teaching all subject-areas, and extracurricular clubs. In this paper, a detailed account of the methods and practices used in an extracurricular robotics club at a culturally diverse, low-socioeconomic Title 1 School is provided. As students collaborate within the team and compete against other schools in FIRST Robotics' FIRST TECH Challenge ® (FTC), they gain experience in problem solving, programming, fundraising, documentation, and community outreach. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the premise that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) through robotics has an effect on minority students' confidence to pursue STEM related careers after college education. We also attempted to evaluate if the participants' attitude about learning new things changed as the students grow to become life-long learners. Our findings suggest that FTC Club benefited this underrepresented group in building confidence in robotics, teamwork skills, and increasing their enjoyment of learning and motivation to pursue STEM careers. © American Society for Engineering Education, 2016.

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