Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Academy (CMRA) is a research organization with Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science…
…that studies how teachers use robots in classrooms to teach Computer Science, Science, Technology Engineering, and Mathematics (CS-STEM). Our mission is to use the motivational effects of robotics to excite students about science and technology. The Robotics Academy fulfills it mission by developing research based solution for teachers that foreground CS-STEM and are classroom tested. Robotics Academy inspired papers and publications can be found here:
Carnegie Mellon’s Robotic Academy staff and development team are housed in the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC), where robots for business, government, and industry are designed, prototyped, and tested just outside our office doors.
Changing Culture in Robotics Classrooms
The CCRC project’s goal is to integrate more computational thinking into robotics classrooms. CMRA has seen that many school’s robotic classrooms started because the school became involved with a robotics competition. Many robotic competitions consist of a set of mechanically challenging activities and don’t require sophisticated programming solutions for teams to be successful. This project builds on the existing robotics competition infrastructure and then extends these activities in ways that foreground computational thinking.
Building a Theory of Badges for Computer Science Education
Robotics provide a great opportunity to introduce students to computer science. Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh develops, tests, and refines a Theory of Robotic Programming Badges that can be applied to Computer Science Education. This project builds on lessons learned as CMRA built the Computer Science Student Network and integrates a complete badge system in Robot Virtual Worlds. The project measures the ability of badges to motivate student learning, to be accurate indicators of student performance, and if the badges are easily understood by students.
The Robot Algebra Project
For years we have heard that teachers are using robotics to teach mathematics. This project studied existing (2008) robotics education pedagogy and then developed multiple strategies that foregrounded proportional reasoning, a big idea in mathematics, that can be taught using robots. CMRA developed multiple tools that can help teachers foreground mathematics using robots:
Abstraction Bridges – Link
Robots in Motion – Link
Expedition Atlantis Game – Link
Expedition Atlantis Teacher’s Guide – PDF Content
Robot Virtual World Measurement Toolkit -MP4 Video
…and many written papers – Link
Mathematics is an enabler of all future innovation and CMRA continues to look for innovative ways to foreground mathematics in all of its activities.
The Computer Science Student Network
The Computer Science Student Network (CS2N) started as a collaborative research project between Carnegie Mellon University and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) designed to increase the number of students pursuing advanced Computer Science and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (CS-STEM) degrees. CS2N has morphed into an online portal where students and teachers can find activities, competitions, and training designed to help them learn basic programming.
The Robotics Corridor Project
The Robotics Corridor Project was a collaboration between Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, Butler County Community College, California University of Pennsylvania, Robert Morris University, Westmoreland County Community College, the Community College of Beaver County, the Community College of Allegheny College, and regional industry partners designed to determine the skill sets that a highly qualified technician would need to work in the robotics and automation industries. This partnership helped establish training, certifications, and associate degrees at the partner schools.
The Robotics Academy works with several community leaders to bring robotics education and competition to students of the Pittsburgh area. Please click the following link to see some of the efforts:
The Robotics Academy offers a host of training for educators that wish to start a robotics program at their institution, whether with VEX or LEGO. A week long training session takes place at the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) in Pittsburgh, PA, or from the convenience from your own workstation via online training. For more information about training, please click the following link:
The Robotics Academy produces many curricula for different education level. Here are some new and upcoming curricula:
The Introduction to Programming the VEX IQ Curriculum features lesson for the VEX IQ Microcontroller; the curriculum’s focus is to teach beginning programmers how to program using ROBOTC’s graphical programming environment. All of the challenges in the curriculum have are available in the Robot Virtual World simulation environment.
The VEX Cortex Video Trainer is a multimedia-rich curriculum featuring lessons for the VEX Cortex Microcontroller; the curriculum’s focus is to teach how to program, but it also includes multi-faceted engineering challenges, step-by-step videos, and robotics engineering teacher support materials. The majority of the challenge found in the Cortex Video trainer have been simulated in the Robot Virtual World Curriculum Companion.
Check out the new version of this curriculum, VEX Cortex Video Training 2.0!
The Introduction to Programming the EV3 Curriculum is a curriculum module designed to teach core computer programming logic and reasoning skills using a robotics context. The curriculum consists of three chapters (Basic Movement, Sensors, and Program Flow) and each chapter is broken into units that teach key robotics and programming concepts. Additionally, there is a huge amount of support for teachers competing in Robotics Competitions for the first time included in the teacher’s guide!
The Introduction to Programming EV3 Curriculum is a curriculum module designed to teach core computer programming logic and reasoning skills using a robotics engineering context. It contains a sequence of 10 projects (plus one capstone challenge) organized around key robotics and programming concepts.
New Educational Technologies
Robot Virtual worlds is Robotic Academy’s solution to giving every student the opportunity to learn robotics, whether access to a physical robot is available or not. Here are some new activities from Robot Virtual Worlds:
Robot Virtual Worlds
No Robot, No Problem! Robot Virtual Worlds is a high-end simulation environment that enables students, without robots, to learn programming. Research has shown that learning to program in RVW is more efficient than learning to program using physical robots. RVW simulates popular real world LEGO robots in 3D environments and allows you to program them using the same languages as physical robots. The RVW environment is perfect for home, classroom, and competition environments!
It’s the year 2023 and Atlantis has been discovered deep in the ocean, off of the coast of Africa. A team of elite scientists and engineers have been sent to investigate the underwater ruins, and you’re one of them! Use your skills to to maneuver the teams underwater vehicles in this expedition to Atlantis!
This is a great GAME that will teach kids the math behind robot movement.
The Virtual Brick allows you to program virtual robots in the Robot Virtual World software using the same programming languages as you can to program real LEGO robots. This allows students additional practice programming and when used appropriately can help students increase their understanding of scale and rate two BIG IDEAS in mathematics. The Virtual Brick works with the following LEGO compatible software: NXT-G, EV3,and LabVIEW for LEGO MINDSTORMS. The Virtual Brick looks and acts like another LEGO Brain, or Brick to these programs.