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A Model for Bringing Robotics to Rural and Under-Resourced Schools

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Listen and learn : Snapshot

Snapshots are a pairing of two 20 minute presentations followed by a 5 minute Q & A.
This is presentation 2 of 2, scroll down to see more details.

Other presentations in this group:

Matthew Buckley  
Mary Lou Ewald  
Jennifer Spencer  

In 2018 and 2019, Alabama was the fastest growing state for VEX robotics teams in the U.S. Learn about the four-part model developed by the Southeastern Center of Robotics Education (SCORE) at Auburn University that provided equipment and PD for 300-plus teachers and facilitated this growth.

Audience: Teachers, Curriculum/district specialists, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Participant accounts, software and other materials: None required
Topic: Equity & inclusion
Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: Computer science, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
  • Foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings.
  • Create learning opportunities that challenge students to use a design process and computational thinking to innovate and solve problems.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The purpose of this presentation is to inform participants about a successful model for implementing robotics in rural, under resourced schools. The initiative - Mission 200 - aimed to start 200 new elementary and middle school robotics teams in Title 1 schools in Alabama and Tennessee that did not currently have any robotics programs available to students. In one year, we trained 208 teachers at 138 schools and started 265 new robotics teams, over 90% of which competed in a local or state robotics tournament during the first year of implementation. The formula for success of Mission 200 involved a model of 4 critical ingredients – provide (1) free equipment to schools, (2) quality teacher training, (3) on-going support to teachers, and (4) establish a committed community partner to facilitate on-site training and on-going support for growing a robotics/STEM ecosystem in the community.
Participants of this session will be guided through the steps of how to grow a robotics ecosystem in their school, their community or their entire geographic region.


I. Describe the Mission 200 model of successful implementation (7 minutes).

II. Review Outcome Goals of Mission 200 (5 minutes)
Outcome Goal #1: Establish 150 new VEX-IQ teams in Alabama and 50 new VEX-IQ teams in Tennessee.
Outcome Goal #2: Create opportunities for teachers to deepen their content and pedagogical knowledge in STEM through hands-on project-based learning opportunities in robotics education.
Outcome Goal #3: Increase teachers’ content knowledge and self-efficacy for coding and implementing robotics-based education technologies in the classroom or in after-school programs.

III. Describe results of each outcome goal (7 minutes)
For example, for Outcome Goal #3, we administered pre- and post-training teacher surveys on STEM self-efficacy at each of the two-day trainings. The Teaching Engineering Self-Efficacy Scale (TESS) includes four areas of teacher self-efficacy or confidence they can be successful teaching engineering. We found that all four types of teaching self-efficacy increased significantly from pre- to post-training surveys. The largest gain was in the area of pedagogical content knowledge (example question “I can recognize and appreciate the engineering concepts in all subject areas.”) which is consistent with the focus of the training. Another area of strong improvement was in disciplinary aspects of the engineering classroom (e.g., “I can establish a classroom management system for engineering activities.”). This is an area many teachers are concerned about when implementing active learning strategies.

IV. Provide strategies for localized implementation of the model (9 minutes)

V. Q and A (2 minutes)

Supporting research

(1) Exploring the educational potential of robotics in schools: A systematic review
Fabiane Barreto Vavassori Benitti
Computers & Education
Volume 58, Issue 3, April 2012, Pages 978-988

(2) Examining Elementary Teachers’ Engineering Self‐Efficacy and Engineering Teacher Efficacy
Rebekah Hammack, Toni Ivey
School Science & Mathematics
Volume117, Issue1-2
February 2017
Pages 52-62

(3) Validation of the Teaching Engineering Self‐Efficacy Scale for K‐12 Teachers: A Structural Equation Modeling Approach
So Yoon Yoon, Miles G. Evans, Johannes Strobel
Journal of Engineering Education
Volume103, Issue3
July 2014
Pages 463-485

More [+]


Matthew Buckley, Southeastern Center of Robotics Edu
Mary Lou Ewald, Auburn University

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