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Utilizing engineering to teach non-technical disciplines: Case studies of robotics within middle school English and health classes


When engineering and computing activities are solely electives, extra curriculars, or informal learning activities, student participation is limited by self-selection. By integrating technological projects into required coursework, all students gain exposure. The Arts & Bots Math and Science Partnership integrates creative robotics into middle school classes such as English and history as transdisciplinary, creative robotics projects. We discuss two case studies of such projects, describing how teachers developed projects through sequential implementations; and how project instruction focuses on developing student technological fluency, collaboration, and understanding of class content. One case study describes the integration of Arts & Bots into 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts in which students build robotic sculptures that represent a poem or scene in a play. The second case study describes a 7th grade Health and Physical Education project in which students build models of human joints and limbs in order to understand muscle pairs. We discuss differences, themes, and best practices for integration of creative robotics into non-technical classes through a comparison of projects implemented to date. The case studies are supplemented by data from student (N=195) and teacher (N=6) evaluations.