Hands-on Robotics for Enhancing Middle-School STEM Education and Increasing Participation of Under-Represented Students
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With support from USC's Civic and Community Relations Neighborhood Outreach (UNO) Program to Prof. Mataric´ and to the Foshay Learning Center, we worked on a middle-school robotics curriculum for Foshay. Foshay Learning Center is one of USC's Family of Schools, an inner-city Los Angeles minority-serving intitution that covers grades K-12. Foshay's high school already has an active robotics program, and the middle school was starting one up. With UNO's support, and the hard work and coordination of Jenny Chang, a PhD student in the USC Interaction Lab, we worked with:
- Nessa Heron (the school couselor)
- Ingrid Moore (science teacher),
- Mary Lewis (science teacher), and
- Juan Alvarado (science teacher)
to provide the Foshay middle school with:
- resources (LEGO kits, electronics, laptop computers),
- lesson materials,
- a resource web site, and
all necessary components for a well-structured in-school robotics program.
In the course of the first year (2005-2006) over 60 of Foshay middle-school students participated in the program; we conducted surveys toward the evaluation of the program. The provided resources are permanent, and will be used toward a continuing and growing robotics program at the Foshay middle school.
We are grateful to the UNO Program for providing the funds for this endeavor, and look forward to expanding the program to other schools as well as making it available to younger (elementary school) students. We are also grateful to the National Science Foundation, which funded our original curricular materials and resources, freely available here.