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Creative Robotics Profile

Creative Robotics: an inclusive program for fostering diverse STEM talent in middle school


This partnership brings together the Robotics Institute (Carnegie Mellon University), two institutions experienced in educational research and teacher development (Marshall University and West Liberty University) and school districts in West Virginia (Mingo County Schools) and Pennsylvania (Allegheny Valley School District). The key innovation of this project in the focal area of Identifying and Cultivating Exceptional Talent is its incorporation of robotics into courses for middle school students in a non-competitive setting to identify and cultivate talent in "exceptional computational thinking" and "exceptional engineering design." The project utilizes the Arts & Bots program which enables teachers to introduce craft-based robotics projects to students in disciplines as varied as art, science, health, or English.

The intellectual merit of this work is the analysis of the role of creative technology in student engineering engagement and the identification of unrecognized creative STEM talent. This contributes to STEM talent theories on computational thinking and engineering design and refines working definitions of technology fluency. The broader impacts include the integration of creativity with technology, refined professional development materials for teachers to support STEM talent, and models for school district-wide deployment of curricular innovation.

By executing the project with pre-service educational partners, a pathway to scaling is built so that the program may spread across a widening footprint of school districts. Research and evaluation focus on student engagement, knowledge, and attitudes as well as teachers' abilities to identify and support student talent.