CANSAT AZORES 2016: CASE STUDY OF PROBLEM SOLVING IN A COLLABORATIVE AND NON-FORMAL CONTEXT
In 2008, Portugal joined the global network of tracking stations of the European Space Agency (ESA), with the Satellite Tracking Station on the island of Santa Maria-Azores. Since 2011, Azorean secondary education teams have won some national and European competitions for the CanSat educational project (literally "satellite in a can") promoted by ESA. In Portugal there are no studies on problem solving in educational space technology projects such as Cansat. The Azorean team participating in the study won the Cansat national and European in 2016. CanSat translates the construction of a minisatellite launched up to 1000m that provides data by telemetry in its fall.
How can problem solving be solved in secondary level students within the framework of the CanSat space technology project that takes place in a collaborative and non-formal environment?
Methodology: Instrument validation by a senior researcher and two teachers of secondary education. Case study with four secondary school students guided by a teacher at Cansat Açores-2016. The students were between the ages of 17 and 19. The coordinating teacher had 20 years of service and experience of participating in projects.
Qualitative techniques of data collection and analysis: Phase I - In the course of project development - Semi structured interviews with students and the coordinating teacher; Questionnaire to students and teacher; Direct observation during problem solving activities (November 2015- April 2016); Phase II - After project completion - Semi structured interviews to the students and the coordinating teacher, questionnaires to the students; Direct observation of students in the national and european competitions (May-July 2016).
For the analysis of problem-solving data, the study used the categories described in the literature, but given the specificity of the study, some categories emerged from the analysis.
Results: Strong motivation of the students, the teacher, the participating school and the parents in the development of CanSat. Advantages of cooperative / non-formal and competitive context.
Students use complex strategies to process information, namely they research on the Internet, analyse and synthesise relevant information, and use important theoretical knowledge to give meaning to the information collected. Cognitive testing, cognitive organisation, cognitive regulation and monitoring, in addition to physical-mathematical calculations, are cognitive and metacognitive behaviour strategies revealed in problem solving in the CanSat project. Problem solving reveals dimensions beyond the traditional "trial error", suggesting a specific model, where students' higher cognitive and metacognitive ordering processes deepen in project development. Computational thinking, lateral, divergent and convergent thinking were detected as thinking types of students associated and mobilized in the course of problem solving. These aspects are comparable to the complex thinking present in scientific investigations. It is a project that can successfully infer some didactic implications for the teaching of science in a collaborative and non-formal context.
The results of this study recommend the introduction of problem solving project's space technology, or even robotics and drones, in order to promote meaningful learning that reduces the barrier between school walls and real life, through learner practices that are more anchored in success factors and metacognitive strategies