Elementary, middle, and high school as well as community college students who have been taking classes developed by the UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education this year will gather at UC Davis and in Orange County May 21 to show off their skills in robotics, programming and math.
The sixth annual C-STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Day will include 73 teams at the UC Davis ARC Pavilion, and another 27 at University High School in Irvine. Both events run from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and are open to the public.
Student teams will be taking part in “RoboPlay Challenge,” where they use their programming skills to solve problems using robots. Several teams will also be showing videos that they have made in class over this academic year using robots.
C-STEM Day caps a year of working with computing, robotics and math curricula developed by the UC Davis C-STEM Center. In their classrooms, the students have used small, reconfigurable robots called Linkbots to learn programming, algebra, and math in a fun and accessible way.
Programming integrated with math
Because C-STEM courses integrate programming into math, they teach the language of computers without displacing other classes. The classes have shown success in closing the “achievement gap” for underperforming students, and have coveted “A-G Program Status” from the University of California, meaning that they fulfill admission requirements for the UC and California State University systems.
In April this year, the C-STEM Center released a complete curriculum for first through 12th grade. The C-STEM Math Information and Communication Technologies Pathway, or Math-ICT-Pathway, curriculum allows school districts to meet President Obama’s goals of “Computer Science For All,” offering every student hands-on computer science and math classes, said center Director Harry Cheng, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UC Davis.
The center has also released a suite of classes, C-STEM Studio, and RoboBlockly, a puzzle-piece programming tool for working with both real and virtual robots. Both C-STEM Studio and RoboBlockly are free downloads from the center’s website.
Summer training for teachers
This summer, teachers can learn how to work with C-STEM classes at one-week professional development institutes. No previous programming experience is required. So far, institutes have been scheduled in Davis, Irvine and San Diego, with more in preparation. Teachers taking the institutes will be ready to use C-STEM curriculum in their classrooms this fall.
Support for the center and C-STEM Day comes from the National Science Foundation, California Department of Education, Barobo Inc., SoftIntegration Inc., Hewlett-Packard Inc. and other sponsors.