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Lessons Learned from a High School Robotics Workshop

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Gloria Guohua Ma Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Gloria Ma is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Technology. She has been teaching robotics with Lego Mindstorm to ME freshmen for several years. She is actively involved in community services of offering robotics workshops to middle- and high-school girls. Her research interests are dynamics and system modeling, geometry modeling, project based engineering design, and robotics in manufacturing.

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Lili Ma Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Lili Ma is an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Technology at Wentworth Institute of Technology, Boston, MA. She received her Ph.D. in electrical and Computer engineering from Utah State University, Logan, UT, in 2004. Before joining Wentworth, she did three-year postdoctoral research in the Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech. She also had one-year industry experience in vision-based metrology. Her research interests include the development and application of image processing, computer vision and vision-based control for autonomous vehicles.

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Statistics data show that there is a huge gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforces in the United States. In order to encourage more women to work in the STEM fields, the first step is to attract women to pursue the STEM majors. Most people are naturally attracted and drawn to robots from movies and stories. Robotics provides an easy, fun, and exciting environment for young minds, while exposing them to technologies at the same time. This paper describes our collaboration with an all-girl high school in offering their students a year-long robotic workshop. The motivation of this collaboration is two-folded. On one side, the school administration is interested in bringing engineering and technologies to their curriculum, which is currently missing. From our side, we would like to motivate and recruit more female students to the STEM fields by showing them the emerging and multidisciplinary aspects. Our collaboration with the local high school started in Fall 2014 by offering their students a year-long robotic workshop. Our objective is to utilize the robotics workshop to introduce STEM concepts to high school students, and encourage them to be interested in an engineering and science career. A sequence of workshop topics were given to introduce the fundamentals of robotic science and the basic components of a robotic system, including hardware, software, programming, sensors, and control. The students would gain intensive experience working with the robots. In addition to introducing the fundamentals, we planned to prepare the students with the necessary knowledge and skills to participate in national robotic competitions, such as FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC) and FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC). At the time of writing, the robotics workshop has been offered for one year and a half. Workshop lessons were offered bi-weekly. At the end of year 2014, a survey was conducted to collect feedbacks from the students. At the end of Spring 2015, we also had direct conversation and discussion with the teachers in the high school to gather their opinions. Continuous and constant modifications and adjustment were performed to give the students an easy yet fruitful learning experience. This paper presents our curriculum development, implementation and modifications of the lesson plan, feedbacks from students and their high school teachers, and the lessons we learned from offering this workshop.

Ma, G. G., & Ma, L. (2016, June), Lessons Learned from a High School Robotics Workshop Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25549

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