This collaboration pairs education and engineering students to engage 5th graders in an after-school club with robotics. Collaboratively designing and coding bio-inspired robots helps improve students’ understanding of coding and the engineering design process.

Objectives for Preservice Teachers

  • Define key programming terms
  • Provide examples of how programming is utilized within engineering
  • Construct simple programs using block based programming language
  • Analyze and improve simple algorithms
  • Create a plan as part of the iterative design process using strategies such as pair programming
  • Exhibit positive attitudes toward the inclusion of engineering and programming in Prek-6 curricula

Objectives for Engineering Students

  • Enhance their understanding of the practical implications of programming
  • Reinforce their ability to invoke principles of computational thinking and numerical computing while solving engineering problems
  • Develop skills to identify and internalize the basic computing fundamentals, which they can teach to other students
  • Acquire an ability to effectively communicate with non-technical audiences

Collaboration 2 focuses on robotics, a field that integrates engineering with computer science. PSTs from an instructional technology course partner with 300-level engineering students to develop a multi-part lesson that engages 5th graders in an after-school club, (the “WowClub”), to design, build, and code bio-inspired robots. The instructional technology course is an ideal avenue to introduce PSTs to programming concepts, which are common to many engineering fields, and have recently been added to many states’ standards, including Virginia’s. Robotics is interdisciplinary, and can be leveraged pedagogically to address multiple subject areas, making it an excellent exemplar for technology integration. Robotics’ interdisciplinarity also primes the engineering students for future interprofessional collaborations where they will be expected to communicate effectively with non-technical audiences.

Our pilot implementation in Spring 2018.

In Spring 2020, the “WoW Club” met virtually and used Zoom to collaboratively build bio-inspired robots as part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This video documents the journey of “Team Dolphin”, as they designed, built, and coded dolphin-inspired robots to address the problem of ocean pollution.