The Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education at the University of California, Davis has launched RoboBlockly, a web-based robotsimulation that uses a simple puzzle-piece interface to program virtual Linkbot and LEGO robots. The RoboBlockly curriculum includes student self-guided Hour of Code robotics and coding activities, as well as teacher-led math activities that meet national standards for grades 4–9. Teacher’s notes and resource packets for all of these activities are freely available in C-STEM Studio. RoboBlockly can be used with a modern web browser on any computing device, including laptops, tablets, iPads, and smartphones, and it is available in multiple languages. Schools using the C-STEM curriculum can attend the annual C-STEM Day held every May at UC Davis and in the past two years in Orange County, California. C-STEM Day presents an opportunity for students to use their programming skills to solve problems in the RoboPlay Challenge Competition, and to demonstrate their creativity in the RoboPlay Video Competition.
In smaller rural schools, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education can face troublesome barriers. In our K–12 district of 730 students, we have many of the common obstacles, including limited funds, no extra faculty, and an already overloaded class schedule. These three join arms to block us from using any of the really cool programs we’d like to. Other institutions sing praises of cutting-edge programs and share their successes. Meanwhile, rural schools are trying to figure out how to educate equally deserving kids in STEM.
How many times have you listened to a lecture, memorized the information, and passed the exam only to be unable to recall most of what you learned just weeks later? How many times have you read a powerful story or watched a movie and been able to recall the plot years later? Information presented in a story doesn’t fade away after it’s been used; it sticks in the mind, ready to be accessed and used at any time.
The Curiosity Cube is a traveling cargo container fitted with labs, virtual-realitytechnology, and other resources to give students a hands-on experience when learning about science. The concept of The Curiosity Cube is based on TheCuriosity Labsprogram, developed by the biotech company Millipore Sigma, in which employees go into classrooms and conduct hands-on experiments with students.