Co-Robots for STEM Education in the 21st Century
The project uses Mobot (an intelligent modular robotics platform designed for K-12 education) to prepare teachers to engage students with relevant pedagogy that illustrates abstract math concepts with concrete applications using computing and robotics.
This project studies how to use co-robot systems and math-oriented co-robotics competitions to enhance student engagement, increase student motivation in learning Algebra and subsequent STEM subjects, and interest in pursuing STEM related careers and post-secondary study. The project leverages a unique robotics platform called Mobot (an intelligent modular system designed for K-12 education) to prepare a cohort of teachers to engage their students with relevant pedagogy that illustrates abstract math concepts with concrete applications using computing and robotics. As such, there are four basic research questions that guide the project: (1) To what extent do fellows' students exhibit (a) increased interest in STEM coursework and careers, and (b) increased knowledge of computing and robotics? (2) How do fellows' students compare to similar students in non-participating teachers' classes in indicators of academic achievement and engagement? (3) How does students' participation in robotics dance and math robotics competitions contribute to their interest in pursuing computing and STEM careers and coursework? (4) To what extent do after school programs integrate the curriculum developed by this project? Each year, the project recruits 15 mathematics, computer science, and technology teachers to participate as Robotics Fellows. These fellows experience an intensive week long summer professional development with follow up throughout the academic year. For implementation in formal and informal settings, the project team works with curriculum experts and teachers in creating teaching plans, instructional materials and evaluations for a co-robot curriculum. The project is integrated with the annual UC Davis Center for Computing and STEM Education Day, where teachers and students participating in the project showcase their accomplishments. A mixed methods approach is used to determine the effects of the professional development and to measure student outcomes. Both formative and summative evaluation strategies inform the development and implementation of the project. As such, the project will advance theory, design, and practice in middle and high school mathematics, technology and design-based classrooms through the use of a field tested co-robotics curriculum.