The Teachable Agents Group at Vanderbilt University
 Vanderbilt University | School of Engineering: EECS | ISIS

Check it out: In July 2013, the C3STEM project was featured on WRCB channel 3 in Chattanooga, TN (link).

Community-Situated, Challenge-Based, Collaborative STEM Learning (C3STEM)

C3STEM is a challenge-based education initiative to teach students computational thinking skills using the traffic domain for problems. Students are introduced to various issues in their community that are related to transportation in the urban environment such as congestion and safety. By beginning their learning at a low-level model of moving cars, students will see the problem at multiple levels of abstraction, allowing for much deeper understanding of the problem and possible solutions. The CTSiM environment is used to teach students how driver behavior can be modeled starting with the basic physics of cars. Students then work through a progression of modules for increasingly complex behavior such as merging, lane changing, and four-way stops.

With knowledge of driver behavior at the micro level, students will collaborate to solve problems at the macro level. An expert traffic simulation tool, SUMO, is used to model traffic in the city. Students are split into groups and given control of a particular neighborhood. Groups will have to collaborate with each other to produce a proper simulation of their city. A GoogleMaps interface is used to facilitate student interaction with the simulation; they can add stop signs, stop lights, change the speed limit, and follow a car as it chooses a route between two points in the city.

With information gleaned from SUMO and CTSiM, students can propose solutions to problems in their community. Local experts such as city engineers will work with students to enhance the learning experience. This collaboration will place a lot of pressure on the network infrastructure of the city, so Chattanooga will be the test environment for this project. With a gigabit network in place throughout the city, collaborating students should experience few connectivity issues.