F1-TEAM1-2 - Designing maths-based STEAM activities for civil engineering curricula

1. Innovative Practice Work In Progress
Rolando Chacón1 , Maria Rosa Estela1
1 School of Civil Engineering. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona. Spain

This paper depicts a “Work-in-progress” set of pedagogical activities and workshops particularly designed for students at the beginning of civil engineering bachelor courses. The pedagogical project is aimed at fostering motivation and creativity among students by merging STEAM and Maths. For this purpose, the set of hands-on activities are aimed at encompassing concepts of calculus (functions, curves and derivatives) and concepts of surveying, construction and measurement using sensors and microcontrollers by means of a fabrication of a low-cost Lidar. Lidar is a surveying method that measures distance to a target by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflected light with a sensor.

Three workshops coupled with multimedia documents are prepared for the students. Firstly, a workshop related to programming mathematical curves and derivatives in Processing, a platform conceived for the development of interactive visual applications. Secondly, a workshop related to the development of the Lidar using primarily electronic prototyping boards such as Arduino. Thirdly, a workshop related to the use of parametric design platforms such as Grasshopper encompassing measurement and programming for drawing interactively the measured curves. These activities are being planned for formal infusion within courses of first year in civil engineering courses. The first edition of such project will be treated as an optional task for the students for evaluation purposes.

This work-in-progress depicts all developments performed within the frame of the project so far. Tests on simple curves infused with instrumentation and computer applications as graphical user interfaces with varying complexity are presented. The tests are pedagogically conceived in such a way that civil engineering students with no prior knowledge in electronics develop and/or use these devices. The development of such devices in their simplest form represent a constructivist educational gateway aimed at contributing to their understanding of maths and coding but also, to their understanding of the basis of surveying and monitoring of systems.