NCSU – Robotics
AWARD YEAR: 2019
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
DIRECTOR: KEVIN OLIVER- KMOLIVER@NCSU.EDU
PROFESSOR, NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
PROJECT TITLE: PROGRAMMED ROBOTICS IN THE AFTER-SCHOOL MAKERSPACE: A FOUR-COUNTY INITIATIVE
The project “Programmed Robotics in the After-School Makerspace: A Four-County Initiative” is proposed by North Carolina State University’s Colleges of Education and Sciences (Northwest Satellite office of the Science House). The project builds on lessons learned in 2 successful SSEP-funded makerspace projects with which project staff are affiliated, Innovative Exploration of Science and Technology (2015-19, http://makingclub.weebly.com), and Makerspace Challenges (2017-202o). While prior work has focused in depth on makerspaces in 2 individual schools (Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Newton-Conover Middle School), this proposed project focuses on breadth and seeks to expand on lessons learned to: a) train 16 students and 8 teacher leaders from 8 schools per year (1 middle/1 high school from each of 4 counties) at summer institutes on 4 targeted programmed robotics platforms that are popular in makerspaces (Cubelets, Sphero, mBot, LEGO EV3); b) leverage this new student and teacher expertise to seed new makerspaces or expand makerspace programming with a minimum of 10 students per school engaged in robotics challenges at least bi-weekly during the school year following training (240+ students served across project); c) develop students’ competence in robotics skills and related math, science, and computer science concepts, with documentation of this knowledge through surveys, evaluator observations, and shared FlipGrid challenges and videos between clubs; d) introduce students to related STEM college and career tracks through industry experts associated with the NC Center for Engineering Technologies (NCCET) (field trips and spring showcase/competition event); and e) expand the capacity 2019 CONFERENCE 65 for making in the larger Piedmont Unifour region (up to 24 different middle/high schools served across Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba counties) with the support of an online, scalable, and sustainable Slack community for schools to share resources, lessons, and new challenges around the four introductory robotics platforms as well as new, future platforms.
STEM career opportunities in this region include the heavily mechanized manufacturing industry (over 425 manufacturers in Catawba County alone, and new data centers in the NC data center corridor (e.g., Apple, Bed Bath & Beyond, Google). While mechanization has reduced some previously available jobs, new career opportunities have emerged for those who can install, troubleshoot, and program robotics, and who can program servers and manage data. It is important for students to know how to work with robotics, as recent reports indicate they will increasingly be found in the workplace and replace as many as 800 million jobs by 2030. Hence, this project trains students and teachers to work with programmed robotics platforms in particular that are common to makerspaces and that can be merged with probeware for data collection/analysis, providing students with exposure to related engineering technology and computer science in preparation for work in these sectors.