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Regional Autonomous Robotics Circuit: Providing Informal Approaches to STEM Education

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

K-12 Robotics

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1030.1 - 23.1030.12



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Paper Authors


JoAnn M. Marshall Cyber Innovation Center/National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center

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JoAnn M. Marshall is the events coordinator for the Cyber Innovation Center. In that role, she recruits schools to participate in the Regional Autonomous Robotics Circuit (RARC), facilitates committee meetings, coordinates event logistics, and serves as a resource to participating teachers. JoAnn received her Bachelor degree from the University of Alabama and her Master degree from the University of Georgia. Her professional career has been dedicated to non-profit organizations in the form of events planning, development, grant writing, and coordinating educational activities for K-12 students.

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Krystal S Corbett Cyber Innovation Center


Geoffrey "G.B." Cazes Cyber Innovation Center/National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center

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G.B. Cazes serves as the Cyber Innovation Center’s (CIC) Vice President and Director of the CIC’s National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC). The CIC is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to support the development of a knowledge-based economy throughout the region. To that end, the CIC developed NICERC to oversee its robust academic outreach and workforce development program. The mission of NICERC is to foster integrated curricular experiences across multiple disciplines in both university and K-12 environments.

G.B. has spent his entire career in the information management and information technology sectors. His experience includes working in the international, commercial, and government markets. Throughout G.B.’s career, his responsibilities have included business development, marketing, public relations, finance, strategic planning, operations, and management. Previously, G.B. served as the Assistant Director of the Information Technology Consulting Department of a locally headquartered IT consulting and software development company. In this capacity, he started the Mobile Development Group which focused on automating business processes through hand-held devices. G.B. also served as the Director of Telecommunications Management Department and became a member of the Executive Team of the same company.

G.B. attended Centenary College and received his Bachelor degree in 2002 and his Master of Business Administration in 2011. In 2012, he became an adjunct professor at Centenary College. G.B. also serves as an advisor on multiple boards for various non-profits and educational institutions throughout the region.

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Regional Autonomous Robotics Circuit: Providing Informal Approaches to STEM EducationAbstractThis paper describes an informal learning program that engages students in grades 4-12 inscience, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) challenges. The RegionalAutonomous Robotics Circuit (RARC) is a series of four competitions offered throughout theschool year that build upon one another and allow students to demonstrate their STEM skills. Inorder to provide a context for the content, liberal arts and 21st Century Skills are alsoincorporated into the challenges. The hands-on challenges serve a dual purpose: introduceSTEM concepts and its many applications to younger students and reinforce STEMfundamentals learned in the classroom for older students.Each competition has three divisions: elementary, middle, and high school. A robotics platformis commonly used in the challenges, which appeals to all grade levels and allows the challengesto be hands-on. Typically, elementary and middle school teams use the LEGO®MINDSTORMS® NXT while high school teams utilize the Parallax Boe-Bot®. Local STEM-related companies are invited to attend the competitions and provide demonstrations to studentson the real-life applications of the skills they learn through RARC.Scholarly journals and national reports cite a decline in students entering STEM fields and aneed to introduce more formal and informal STEM opportunities to students throughout theeducation pipeline. Teachers at a local middle school and high school answered that call toaction in 2008 by beginning an annual robotics competition. By 2010, the annual competitionattracted 43 teams from approximately 13 schools. ________________ recognized the potentialof exposing a greater number of students to STEM learning opportunities and partnered with theschools on the 2011 competition. The number of participating teams reached 56 and the numberof participating schools doubled to 26 schools from four counties._________________ noted that teachers were eager for more opportunities to engage theirstudents in hands-on STEM activities throughout the school year and decided to expand theannual competition to a circuit of four competitions called RARC. RARC was introduced toteachers across the region in Fall 2011. Thirty-seven schools from seven counties participated inthe 2011-2012 RARC with 508 students in grades 4-12 benefitting from the program. Theaverage number of teams participating in each competition was 77.The 2012-2013 RARC will feature all new STEM challenges. The first competition of the 2012-2013 RARC will be held in September 2012, and 125 teams from 37 schools from six countieshave already registered. The RARC organizers predict that the number of participating teamsand schools will continue to grow throughout the 2012-2013 circuit.The success of the 2011-2012 RARC has invoked discussions of utilizing the model forreplication in other communities that have expressed an interest in participating but are too farfrom the event site. Additionally, _______________ is in the process of planning acomprehensive professional development plan for teachers who want to involve their students inRARC but do not have the STEM skills to coach their students.

Marshall, J. M., & Corbett, K. S., & Cazes, G. G. (2013, June), Regional Autonomous Robotics Circuit: Providing Informal Approaches to STEM Education Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22415

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