RoboPlay Competition for K-12 Students Is May 19

Students at robotics competition.
Students compete at the 2017 RoboPlay competition at UC Davis. The competition, for elementary, middle and high-school students taking the UC Davis C-STEM Center curriculum, caps a year of working with robots to learn algebra, mathematics and programming. (C-STEM Center/UC Davis).

The 2018 C-STEM Center RoboPlay Challenge Competition for elementary, middle and high school students will be held Saturday, May 19, at the ARC Pavilion, University of California, Davis, and at University High School in Irvine, California. The center also is announcing the free Girls in Robotics Leadership summer camps and professional development opportunities for teachers. 

The RoboPlay competition is for students who have been taking classes developed by the Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education, or C-STEM, at UC Davis. The event caps a year of working with robots to learn algebra, mathematics and programming and is an opportunity for students to show their skills. This year, 120 school teams will take part at UC Davis and 35 teams in Irvine. 

The theme of this year’s RoboPlay competition is “Manufacturing and Automation.” Teams will also show videos they have produced for the RoboPlay Video Competition, which encourages students to test their creativity in writing, editing and video production with programmable robots. This year, 91 videos have been submitted by student teams.

Helping Students Succeed in Math

Emma Kristovich is a sophomore at UC Davis who was encouraged to major in computer science and engineering after taking the C-STEM program in high school. Now she is coordinator for the RoboPlay competition, and she wrote for the Davis Enterprise about how the program can encourage diversity in STEM classes and close the achievement gap for underrepresented students. 

The C-STEM curriculum is now in use in schools across the country. It is particularly effective in reaching students who have tuned out of conventional math teaching and in closing the “achievement gap,” according to C-STEM Center Director Harry Cheng, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UC Davis. 

Both events are free and open to the public. More information is available on the RoboPlay Challenge website.  

Summer camps and training for teachers

This summer, the C-STEM Center is again offering the Girls in Robotics Leadership, or GIRL, camps for middle school students at eight locations in Northern California and two in Cincinnati, Ohio. The one-week camps are free to participants. The center is also piloting a GIRL+ summer camp for high school age participants, to be held at UC Davis. 

Teachers can learn how to bring the C-STEM curriculum and tools into their classrooms at a series of summer workshops. Topics covered include using C-STEM programs with LinkBot and NXT/EV3 robots, Arduino control boards and Raspberry Pi computers, and CPSbot (Cyber-Physical System bot). Two-day, three-day and one-week workshops are planned for various locations in California as well as in Salt Lake City, Cincinnati and Cleveland. No previous programming experience is required. For more information and to register, go to the center’s website

Support for the center and RoboPlay competitions comes from the National Science Foundation, California Department of Education, Barobo Inc., SoftIntegration Inc., Beckman Coulter Inc. and other sponsors. 

Media Resources

Harry Cheng, C-STEM Center, 530-752-5020,

Andy Fell, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-752-4533,

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