Skip to Main Content
Two pre-college programs have been funded at University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) to promote mathematics, science, engineering and technology (MSET) education among minority middle and high school students by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) respectively. The programs are directed by the first and second author of this paper and are ably supported by graduate students in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at UMES who are also co-authors of the paper. In the NOAA of sponsored middle school program twenty, middle school students participate in a two-week summer activity at UMES. The program endeavors to introduce and generate interest among participants to pursue MSET majors. The NASA-sponsored "Summer Engineering Bridge Program (SEBP)" provides enrichment activities for fifteen to twenty high school seniors in transition to college. The program is five weeks long and is structured to improve the success of marginally accepted engineering majors at UMES during their freshman year in college. While the focus of SEBP is on promoting engineering, other interested MSET majors can also participate and benefit from the program. There are a variety of educational and recreational activities that are integrated in the programs. The focus in this paper is on activities incorporated in the programs using LEGO Mindstorm and LEGO DACTA products for design and embedded computer control of mobile robotic platforms as well as instrumentation and data acquisition using LEGO sensors. Teamwork and cooperative learning are promoted. A similar product suitable for embedded computing activities called MIT Handyboard is also introduced to the high school students.