Maja J Matarić
I am motivated to share my enthusiasm and passion for the creative
opportunities that engineering provides with pre-university K-12
students, and to use robotics, my own field of expertise, as a tool to
illustrate how interesting engineering can be. I enjoy presenting
these principles to various stakeholder audiences, from K-12 students,
to teachers, to members of the media, to the entertainment industry. I
am also committed to making robotics accessible to students of all
ages. In outreach, my emphasis is on K-12 students, in particular
under-represented groups (girls especially, who tend to miss out on
how fun robotics can be), in the middle-school age group, with a goal
of introducing robotics as early as elementary school. I believe that
hands-on experiential learning through the use of robotics as a tool
and topic is a great way for students to gain interest and knowledge
in engineering in general, and STEM (science, technology, engineering
and math) and computational thinking in particular.
The following are my recent and ongoing outreach activities:
Leading the USC Viterbi
School of Engineering Adopt-a-School, Adopt-a-Teacher (VAST) K-12
STEM outreach program.
Leading (with Prof. Gigi Ragusa) the NSF-supported middle school
teacher development program
"Societally Relevant Engineering Technologies Research: A Research
Experience for Teachers Site (SRET-RET)".
Co-leading the NSF-supported
"Body Engineering Los Angeles (BE-LA)
GK-12", an outreach and development program that matches middle
school science teachers and Viterbi School PhD students for.
robotics programming workbook with illustrated exercises and
solutions, available on the
web: http://roboticsprimer.sourceforge.net. The
workbook exercises are designed for the
Roomba platforms. The workbook provides three different
programming environments and a variety of add-on sensor options. The
workbook is a stand-alone generally accessible resource for students
at all levels (university and K-12), educators (university and K-12)
and hobbyists. It is written to dovetail with
my "The Robotics
Primer" textbook for the same audience, available
from MIT Press.
Curricular materials for a
6th grade hands-on robotics course and
8th grade robotics-based science class, developed in collaboration
with two LA middle school teachers and with the support of an NSF
Research Experience for Teachers (RET) supplement award. All
here. We also developed
resource web site for K-12 teachers.
Curricular materials for an in-class and after-school middle school
robotics program, set up at and in partnership with Foshay
Learning Center, during July 2005-June 2006; it involved school
visits, teacher training, and providing permanent resources (robot
plans) for the program, supported by the USC Neighborhood Outreach
Robotics for Enhancing Middle-School STEM Education and Increasing
Participation of Under-Represented Students".
is a nice article about the program.
Curricular materials for an after-school elementary school robotics
program, set up at and in partnership with St. Agnes Elementary
School, during July 2006-June 2007; it involved school visits, teacher
training, and providing permanent resources (robot kits and
plans) for the after-school program, supported by the USC
Neighborhood Outreach Grant
Robotics for Enhancing Elementary-School STEM Education and Increasing
Participation of Under-Represented
Students". Look here
for more information. The all-girls robotics club went on to the
state-level competition in their first year of the program!
Annual summer robotics course in South Pasadena, in collaboration
South Pasadena Educational Foundation (SPEF) and the
South Pasadena School District
(SPUSD), and working with elementray and middle school science
teachers, supported by the NSF Research Experience for Teachers (RET)
supplement awards, from 2008 annually and ongoing. The annual program
consists of USC PhD students training K-12 teachers in robotics, who
then deliver the month-long summer robotics course for 5th-7th
graders. This has been come an established annual course. The goal is
to motivate the teachers to also transition the materials from the
summer courses into their STEM in-class curricular materials, as well
as to encourage the establishment of a year-round robotics clubs for
middle and high school students. The course uses the Robotics Primer
and LEGO Mindstorm NXT kits. Here is a
nice South Pasadena Review article about the 1st year of the program.
Robotics exercises for the 2nd grade and 4-5th grade science
modules, developed by teachers at the Monterey Hills School, with
support of the NSF Research Experience for Teachers (RET) supplement
award, in 2010. The teaching materials are found here.
Annual USC Robotics Open House
Week in April of each year. The event is free and open to the
public, and provides an opportunity to see real cutting-edge research
robots and talk with robotics researchers: undergraduate and PhD
students and faculty at USC.
Annual robotics assemblies at
Monterey Hills Elementary School. Started in 2003 and continues as
an annual event (celebrating a decade in 2013!). The assemblies
feature interactions with various fun and instructive robots from
the Interaction Lab,
and involve PhD students as role models to the school children. The
assemblies are given to all grades in the school, K-5, usually in
April. Here are
photos from the 2012 assemblies.
portal with free information, materials, and links for K-12
robotics activities, drawn from the activities listed above and other
K-12 outreach done in my
The following are my publications covering some of my work in
robotics for K-12 STEM education:Maja J. Matarić, Juan Fasola, and David J. Feil-Seifer, "Robotics
as a tool for immersive, hands-on freshmen engineering instruction",
Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)
Annual Conference & Exposition Pittsburgh, PA, Jul 2008. [PDF]
Maja J Matarić, Nathan Koenig, and David Feil-Seifer,
"Materials for Enabling Hands-On Robotics and STEM Education", AAAI
Spring Symposium on Robots and Robot Venues: Resources for AI
Education, Palo Alto, CA, Mar 2007. [PDF]
Maja J Matarić, "Robotics Education for All Ages",
Proceedings, AAAI Spring Symposium on Accessible, Hands-on AI and
Robotics Education, Palo Alto, CA, Mar 22-24, 2004. [PDF]
I welcome helpful suggestions and new outreach opportunities.
Go to Maja's home page.
Go to the Interaction Lab home page.
Mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.