In the EcoAgents project, K-12 students collect geo-tagged real world data on resource consumption and design robotic devices to alleviate climate change, with a special focus on using computational technologies such as data collection and modeling tools. EcoAgents combines environmental awareness, global collaboration, and innovation. Students will study the math and science behind everyday actions, design working solutions for environmental change, and share their ideas globally. Using sophisticated computer-based tools, they will complete inquiry-based projects and develop prototypes with colleagues throughout the global EcoAgents community.
EcoAgents is about helping students to model everyday life as a collection of quantifiable small actions with multi-level, highly connected environmental and human consequences, in order to understand the deep mathematics and science behind climate change. Additionally, it endeavors to establish a global community of students and scholars that leverage each other’s experience and knowledge to introduce local change in the ways that people think and behave. EcoAgents will use natural forms of assessment to monitor student knowledge construction as each individual develops into a creative environmental innovator.
EcoAgents is structured in such a way that students participate in three primary activities. The first is around designing devices and tools for completing environmental data collection. Students will construct mechanical and/or electronic devices that allow them to gather the necessary information that they need to explore some phenomenon or problem. Second, after collecting the data, students perform extensive data analysis to recognize trends and patterns that can help them to better understand the environmental issue in question. This analysis will leverage computer-based model building and data visualization tools. After students have grown to understand the particular causes, processes, and consequences of the environmental issue, they will be challenged to create solutions to the issue. This can involve the creation of virtual and/or physical prototypes through the manipulation of electronics, mechanical devices, and computer programs. It may involve changes to existing industrial processes or personal practices. As students develop these solutions, they will share their progress with the global EcoAgents community and engage in a conversation around the science of sustainability. EcoAgents will introduce a framework for analyzing student knowledge in project-based learning environments, using data-logging and machine-learning technologies for detecting the evolution of student subject-matter knowledge.