Project Overview

This DR K-12 project will lower the barriers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines for students through professional development (PD) of middle school science and math teachers by using robotics as the curriculum focus. The project will overcome two challenges to the integration of robotics in science and math learning by performing design-based research.

The first challenge is lack of curricula to ensure that the science and math content inherent in robotics and related engineering design practices are learned at a sufficiently deep level to justify classroom adoption of robotics. This challenge offers us an opportunity to develop and refine curricula that promote project-based, hands-on, instruction to ensure that students learn, understand, and apply the underlying science and math content while doing age-appropriate robotics activities.

The second challenge is teachers' lack of preparation and training to use robotics in science and math teaching. Most teachers do not have effective models or knowledge to capitalize on robotics for elucidating science and math concepts. We will build on the construct of technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge (TPACK) to create and conduct a PD program that will allow teachers to use their students' interest in robotics to engage them to learn the required science and math content.

We hypothesize that our PD model, which applies what the field knows and what we know empirically from our prior work, will (1) build teachers' capacity to effectively utilize robotics to teach middle school science and math and ultimately (2) positively impact student learning, beliefs, attitudes, perceptions, and motivation in STEM. We have formed an interdisciplinary team of experts in robotics, engineering, education, curriculum design, and assessment—with experience in K-12 education, training, and outreach—to make robotics central to and sustainable in middle school science and math classrooms.