Project Profile

Promoting learning and interest in mathematics for urban Black and Latinx children through culturally relevant daily robot coding activities


This Developing and Testing Innovations project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase students' knowledge and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and information and communication technology (ICT) careers. Specifically, the project will increase the interest and improve achievement in mathematics of New York City Black and Latinx students in 1st - 3rd grades. Research shows that students of color experience stagnation and downward achievement in mathematics already by the 3rd grade due primarily to poverty or limited educational opportunities, making it difficult for them to imagine a career in the STEM field. This project focuses on this critical issue by developing innovative age-appropriate mathematics curriculum using robotics technology as a platform.   Culturally relevant robot coding activities will be co-designed with teachers and implemented in their classrooms. The project will also engage minority STEM professionals who use robotics in their careers to serve as role models for students. The project is a partnership between Teachers College of Columbia University, Vision Education & Media, a community-based STEM organization, and two NYC Title I schools. Findings will inform researchers on how culturally relevant robot coding activities may link to student’s mathematics learning, engagement, and interest in mathematics. For practitioners, the findings will contribute to better understanding of how to design, develop, and implement short culturally relevant coding activities into standard-based mathematics curriculum.


Using a design-based research approach, the project will generate new knowledge about whether, and how, urban Black and Latinx elementary school students can increase mathematics achievement by engaging in short culturally relevant robot coding activities. This project will also examine potential causal features and mechanisms that underlie 300 elementary school students’ achievement, motivation, and interest in mathematics, and inform 12 teachers of possible learning trajectories when applying robot coding activities for mathematics learning. The project will also explore a new approach to professional development by involving teachers in co-designing robot coding activities directly linked to experiences and cultures of their students. The development, testing, and implementation of the new supplemental curriculum takes a central role in this project and involves an interdisciplinary research team. Multiple forms of data (e.g., teacher artifacts, observations, interviews, and student surveys, achievement data, focus group discussions) will be used to compile multidimensional portraits of engagement and practice related to culturally relevant math pedagogy and curriculum design (from the teachers) and math interest and learning (from the students). Quantitative data analysis will consist of descriptive and inferential statistics, including regression analysis, ANCOVA and repeated measures ANOVA. Qualitative data will be analyzed using constant comparative analysis and timelining analysis. Using the information obtained from context analysis and exploration of the problem/issues, the study will develop domain-specific theories that consider the sociocultural perspective and empirical knowledge from educational research.


This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.



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Principal Investigator(s)
Co-Principal Investigator(s)


Award Number
Project Duration
2022 - 2026
Developing and Testing Innovations (DTI)
"Teachers College, Columbia University", New York, NY
Project Work State
Target Gradespan(s)
Elementary school (K-5)
Project Setting(s)
Formal Education
Geographic Location(s)
Project Status
Mathematical sciences
Target Participants
Youth / students