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Identifying and Cultivating Diverse STEM Talent through Creative Robotics

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

K-12 and Pre-College Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.685.1 - 24.685.6



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Paper Authors


Jennifer Cross Carnegie Mellon University Orcid 16x16

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Jennifer Cross graduated from the F. W. Olin College of Engineering with a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering and is now working toward her doctorate degree in Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. A fellow of both the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Program and the Institute of Education Sciences’ Program for Interdisciplinary Educational Research at Carnegie Mellon, Jennifer’s research focuses on the impacts of integrating creative robotics into cross-curricular learning environments and the development of the Arts & Bots program.

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Emily Hamner Carnegie Mellon University

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Identifying and Cultivating Diverse STEM Talent Through Creative Robotics (works in progress)In recent years, there has been increasing concern that the U.S. K-12 educational system isfalling short in preparing the technology innovators of the future. Students who exhibit theintellectual curiosity and creative problem-solving talents crucial to the engineering process canslip through the cracks, going unrecognized by their teachers and therefore receive insufficientsupport as their education progresses. We provide opportunities for teachers to better recognizeand support these abilities through the integration of a creative robotics activity into standardrequired middle school courses, such as earth science and health classes.This new program, started in fall 2013, is a joint collaboration combining the teacher trainingexpertise of University V and University W, the technology development expertise of UniversityX and school district-wide support from suburban school district Y and rural school district Z.Developed and piloted by University X, the creative robotics activity, Arts & Bots, combinescraft materials, traditional robotics components and a custom programming environment toencourage students to design, construct and test expression-oriented robots (Figure 1). Theimplementation of the program in required courses so that all 7th and 8th grade students of schooldistricts Y and Z will participate eliminates the self-selection seen in elective technologyactivities. Through the elimination of self-selection and the contextualization of robotics in otherdisciplines, the Arts & Bots program also encourages students with diverse interests and skills toengage with the engineering process at their own level, especially those students who areunmotivated and intimidated by conventional, competitive robotics activities.This program, which we will implement over the next three years, will focus on three areas ofwork. We are creating and piloting professional development activities for teachers thatincorporate training on the use of Arts & Bots, the creation of supporting curriculum andmethods to identify and support students with latent STEM talents. We are collaborativelyrefining the existing Arts & Bots robotics kit to better elucidate student abilities and creatingenrichment activities to allow teachers to cultivate these talents in their classes. Finally, we arerefining and implementing tools to support the summative and formative evaluation of theprogram including assessing teacher student-talent identification skills, teacher technologyattitudes, student self-efficacy and student attitudes towards engineering and technology.Figure 1: Student created model of the human arm constructed from foam core board, pantyhose,and rubber bands in an anatomy class using the Arts & Bots robotics kit during pilot study. Servomotors add movement to the shoulder, elbow and wrist joints while a light sensor is used tointeractively trigger different arm positions.

Cross, J., & Hamner, E. (2014, June), Identifying and Cultivating Diverse STEM Talent through Creative Robotics Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20577

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