Integrating Robotics in Local Brooklyn Schools


Applying Mechatronics to Promote Science (AMPS), a GK12 Fellows Program funded by National Science Foundation (NSF), has completed its 6th year at the NYU School of Engineering. The program, led by Mechanical Engineering Professor Vikram Kapila along with Civil Engineering Professor Magued Iskander and the Center for K12 STEM Education’s director Ben Esner, pairs School of Engineering graduate students with local Brooklyn K-12 public schools. The graduate students work weekly with K12 classroom teachers to collaborate on STEM curricula and student teaching.

Highlights from our classrooms:

Brooklyn Law & Tech High School

1479334_380054862140032_887306651_nBrian Palacios, math teacher, has worked with his GK12 Fellow, Paul Phamduy, to integrate participatory robotics activities into his teaching. He described, “Providing a hands-on approach to teaching in my STEM classrooms allows my students to truly experience the learning process. This approach actually gives them the opportunity to make mistakes and then grow from them, which is crucial. Students learn by doing. Period.”

1480614_380054938806691_1868065042_nBrian reflects on the experience, “Having Paul in my classroom provides a key engineering perspective that I would not have otherwise. The insight that Paul gives me on the activities makes them much more engaging and rigorous for my students. He provides an authentic, real-world connection to everything we do.”

Madiba Prep Middle School

581791_380054778806707_1390933249_nJerib Carson, 7th grade teacher, has worked with his GK12 Fellow, Violet Mwaffo, to offer team-based and interactive robotics workshops in his day-to-day lessons. To prepare for lesson delivery, the two discuss appropriate use of the available LEGO components (bricks, sensors, add-on pieces like robotic arms) in the lesson activities. The collaboration includes creating a teaching script and grouping students so they have at least one instructor with them to assist during the lab session. Jerib has about 85 students who have different learning styles and who perform at varying academic levels.

In his units covering Geology and Interactions Between Matter and Energy, Jerib introduced a couple of robotics activities. He explained, “One activity required students to design a robotic arm/attachment for use on a robot simulating the Curiosity ROV currently exploring the geology on Mars. Another activity used the light sensor to measure the luster of mineral samples we used in our lab.”

1535416_380054838806701_1181507927_nJerib elaborated on the significance of teamwork for his students in his lessons. “I have also tried to emphasize the importance, when working in groups during team-based activities, in valuing others perspectives and viewpoints as a means of gathering data, assessing possible answers to questions and critical and analytical thinking in general. Our students are entering the stage of their academic development where they are able to see themselves as an integral part of a larger learning community where others are required to make sense out of what they learn.”

In addition to the National Science Foundation, our thanks to the generous support of corporations and foundations that have supported the project.  These include the Xerox Foundation, Brooklyn Community Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, the White Cedar Fund and others.