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This content will become publicly available on August 1, 2024

Title: Paper Circuits vs. Breadboards: Materializing Learners’ Powerful Ideas Around Circuitry and Layout Design
Abstract This exploratory study compares how young people (ages 15–16) learn circuitry concepts and layout design principles important to electrical engineering using one of two educational circuitry toolkits: paper circuits and traditional solderless breadboards. Paper-based prototyping kits are representative of a trend that incorporates new materials and approaches to integrating arts into traditional STEM disciplines. Extending prior research on how non-traditional toolkits enhance learning of electrical engineering outcomes, including basic circuitry concepts (i.e., current flow, polarity, and connections), this study examines the material affordances and design choices of the kits that contribute to youth’s understanding of more advanced circuitry layout design principles, including space allocation, placement of electronic components, and routing. Results indicate that paper circuits better afford the learning of layout design principles for printed circuit boards (PCBs) with large effect sizes. This study illuminates how the materials of educational toolkits uniquely solicit body- and material-syntonic patterns of activity, and thus differentially engage learners’ powerful ideas around circuitry and design principles. This investigation encourages careful consideration of the material affordances of some toolkits over others for learning purposes.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Science Education and Technology
Page Range / eLocation ID:
469 to 492
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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