Introduction to Engineering through Robotics Curriculum

Funded by the Office of Naval Research, the Sea, Air and Land (SeAL) Challenge program introduces high school and middle school students to engineering through the use of robotics. The goals of the Challenge are to (1) give students the opportunity to tackle a difficult engineering project while still in high school, (2) provide students with an awareness of the tremendous technical career opportunities available in the Department of Defense as a civilian or in the military, and (3) help educators and administrators implement a successful STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) program into their schools even given time, budget, and resource constraints.

A detailed one semester curriculum for use by educators for Grades 7-12 has been developed in conjunction with ITEEA in order to address the third stated goal. This allows educators without an engineering background to introduce the field to the students. In addition, the curriculum incorporates project-based learning as students design and build a robotics system to showcase in the SeAL Challenge. This hands-on approach promotes a deeper understanding of engineering for students and develops self-confidence and other soft skills.

The curriculum adheres to Standards for Technology and Engineering Literacy (STEL), Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core State Standards for Math (CCSS Math). It also incorporates ITEEA’s 6E Learning byDeSIGN™ Instructional Model for maximizing informed design and inquiry in the Integrative STEM Classroom. Information for optional Autodesk Inventor user certification, 3D printing industrial certification and soft skills certification is included. The curriculum may be used in conjunction with the Sea Air and Land Challenge or as a standalone course. Conversely, it is optional for use for those involved with the Sea Air and Land Challenge.


Susan Zingaro is the coordinator of the national Sea Air and Land Challenge from Penn State’s Electro-Optics Center in Freeport, PA. A mechanical and materials engineer by training and trade, she has been involved with K-12 science programs for over fifteen years. Penn State is the central resource for this STEM initiative nicknamed the SeAL Challenge and sponsored by the Office of Naval Research. The main goal of the program is to introduce high school and middle school students to engineering through the use of robotics. This low-cost, easily accessible program can be used as its own class, as part of a science, math or technology course, or with after school groups and clubs. In addition to learning about STEM, benefits of the program include learning about careers, growing self-confidence and soft skills, and teaming. They also link educators and teams with volunteer engineering mentors. New this year is a one semester Introduction to Engineering curriculum for 7th–12 graders, which they would like to share with you.

 

Debra Shapiro, DTE is a middle school teacher at Forest Glen Middle School in Suffolk, VA in her 35th year as a Technology and Engineering educator. Debra is an Authorized Teacher Effectiveness Coach for the Exploring Technology, Inventions and Innovations, and Technological Systems Engineering byDesign courses for ITEEA's STEM Center for Teaching and Learning. Her middle school students were in the first group of middle school participants in the national Sea Air and Land Challenge from Penn State’s Electro-Optics Center. Debra is currently the President-Elect of ITEEA.