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Aerial Drone: an Effective Tool to Teach Information Technology and Cybersecurity through Project Based Learning to Minority High School Students in the U.S.

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This paper describes the design, implementation, and results of an NSF funded Summer Academy from 2016 to 2018, which engaged, on an annual basis, 30 to 60 rising 10th and 11th grade high school science students in an innovative, technology-enriched Project Based Learning (PBL) environment. This Academy emphasized how tech gadgets work and the impact that technology can have on improving communities by immersing students in the exploration of one such device that is a growing phenomenon, the “aerial drone.” In this Academy, the students learned various operations of the drone through Python programming language, and some cybersecurity issues and solutions. The student teams, under the guidance of diverse mentors, comprehensively fortified their STEM problem-solving skills and critical thinking. Both formative and summative evaluations for this Academy showed that it helped students improve their critical thinking ability and motivated them to pursue careers in STEM-related disciplines, specifically in information technology and cybersecurity areas.

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This research was supported in part by National Science Foundation grants #1761735,

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Correspondence to Jay Bhuyan.

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#1723586, #1663350, #1614845, National Institute of Health grant NIH TU CBR/RCMI #U54MD007585, and a grant from Rockwell Collins, U.S.A. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding agencies. We have no potential conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee (Tuskegee University Human participant Review Committee, Institutional Review Board-IRB # 00001137 + reference number HPRC #110915) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Bhuyan, J., Wu, F., Thomas, C. et al. Aerial Drone: an Effective Tool to Teach Information Technology and Cybersecurity through Project Based Learning to Minority High School Students in the U.S.. TechTrends 64, 899–910 (2020).

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