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A Robotics-Based 3D Modeling Curriculum for K-12 Education

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Evaluation: Technology and Tools for K-12 Engineering Education

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.102.1 - 26.102.14



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Paper Authors


Maria Alessandra Montironi UC Davis

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Maria Alessandra Montironi is a PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering at the University of California Davis. Since 2013 she has been involved with the UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education (C-STEM). Within the Center, she is involved in developing new strategies for improving K-12 STEM Education through integration of computing, 3D modeling and robotics.

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Daniel S Eliahu UC Davis C-STEM Center

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Danny Eliahu is an undergraduate mechanical engineering student at the University of California, Davis where he has helped author a comprehensive curriculum intended to teach 3D modeling skills to K-12 students. He is an active member of the UC Davis C-STEM Center and has designed numerous educational accessories for use with the modular Linkbots produced by Barobo Inc.

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Harry H. Cheng University of California, Davis

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Dr. Harry H. Cheng is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Graduate Group in Computer Science, and Graduate Group in Education at the University of California, Davis, where he is also the Director of the Integration Engineering Laboratory ( He founded and directs the UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education (C-STEM) ( C-STEM is a UC Approved Educational Preparation Program for undergraduate admission to all UC campuses and has UC A-G Program Status. He has established research programs in robotics, intelligent mechatronic systems, networked embedded systems, and integrated computing and STEM education funded by government agencies and industry. From 1989 to 1992, he was a Senior Engineer for robotic automation systems with the Research and Development Division, United Parcel Service. He has authored and coauthored more than 170 papers in refereed journals and conference proceedings. He holds two U.S. patents. He is the author of the book “C for Engineers and Scientists: An Interpretive Approach” (McGraw-Hill, 2009). He is the co-founder of SoftIntegration, Inc. and Barobo, Inc. He received a M.S. degree in mathematics and a Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1986 and 1989, respectively. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a Senior Member of IEEE. Dr. Cheng received the 2015 Distinguished Scholarly Public Serve Award from UC Davis, the 2013 ASME’s MESA Achievement Award for a cumulative contribution to the field of Mechatronic and Embedded Systems and Applications, a Research Initiation Award from the National Science Foundation, the Best Paper Award and Best Student Paper Award at the IEEE/ASME International Conference on Mechatronic and Embedded Systems and Applications, the Procter and Gamble Best Paper Award as well as the Waldron Award at the Applied Mechanisms and Robotics Conference. He received an Outstanding Contribution Award from United Parcel Service, Inc. He was the General Chair of the 2009 ASME/ IEEE International Conference on Mechatronic and Embedded Systems and Applications and the Program Chair of the 2006 IEEE/ASME International Conference on Mechatronic and Embedded Systems and Applications.

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Preliminary Design and Evaluation of a 3D Modeling Curriculum for K-12 Education. (Evaluation)AbstractThis paper presents a new curriculum designed for teaching 3D modeling tools to K-12students. In particular, the curriculum is developed for middle school and high schoolstudents to teach them the most common practices used in Mechanical Engineering whendesigning new parts. As widely studied and suggested by new standards, such as the NextGeneration Science Standards (NGSS), in order to be able to succeed in STEM releateddegrees and jobs, students need to be exposed as early as possible to concepts and pracitcestypical to the world they are going to live and work in. Moreover, they need to learn thecomplexity of real-world systems as well as their interdisciplinarity. To fulfill these objectives,the curriculum here presented focuses on designing and 3D printing components for theLinkbot modular robots. These are educational robots developed at Barobo, Inc. incollaboration with the UC Davis C-STEM Center. Other curricula have already beendeveloped by C-STEM center to use these robots as a teaching support in Maths classes andas an introduction to Programming. Therefore this 3D modeling curriculum can be easilyintegrated with the robotics and computing ones, providing a deeper insight in the complexityof how different engineering disciplines interlace in the process of designing and programminga robot. The curriculum described in this section is composed of five sections where studentscan learn the basics and good practices of 3D modeling using Autodesk Inventor or SolidWorks, the modeling softwares commonly used in Mechanical Engineering design applications.A series of exercises then allows students to experiment on what they just learned. Resultsfrom surveys conducted after two one-week-long summer camps held by the UC DavisC-STEM Center ( where thecurriculum was tested are definitely positive. They mainly show that students felt challengedby a task typically performed by "real engineers" and proud to being able to design and 3Dprint their own idea.

Montironi, M. A., & Eliahu, D. S., & Cheng, H. H. (2015, June), A Robotics-Based 3D Modeling Curriculum for K-12 Education Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23443

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