Tuesday, July 9, 2019


Along with three others - out of twenty submissions - the Iowa STEM Council chose a CS @ UI proposal, led by Denise Szecsei, to develop and evaluate K12 classroom activities in the UI College of Education as well as build relationships with STEM teachers throughout Iowa..

The mission of the Iowa STEM Council is to increase awareness, interest and achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). One of the missions of the UI Department of Computer Science is to develop innovative ways to incorporate emerging technologies into STEM curriculum and to provide an opportunity to obtain first-hand experience working with new technology. The department also encourages interdisciplinary collaboration by developing project-based outreach activities that appeal to students of all ages.

Robotics as a valuable learning tool...

... that can offer hands-on, engaging activities in an active learning environment. It can help students develop cognitive and social skills, and supports STEM learning.

Identifying the correct technology that can support the mission of an introductory robotics experience is crucial. One such robot, Cozmo, developed by Anki, has many aspects that make it ideal to be used in an introductory robotics workshop. Its versatility translates across the academic spectrum: from introductions to computer programming and human-robot interaction to advanced explorations in CS and robotics.

One program, multiple angles

In this project, students will work with Cozmo, a vision-guided mobile robot with built-in artificial intelligence and an open source Python software development kit (SDK). They will also be exposed to several big ideas in robotics: autonomous behavior, computer vision, robot-human interaction, inter-robot communication, and navigation and path planning. Learning about movement will reinforce mathematical concepts in geometry, trigonometry, and algebra.

In parallel, Szecsei will be working to develop and evaluate K12 classroom activities with faculty and pre-service students in the University of Iowa College of Education as well current STEM educators. An introductory robotics module as part of Science Teaching Methods classes will show how this technology can support STEM education. Contributing to the growing community of educators using Cozmo in the classroom will help others build from our model.

Sample of desired outcomes

  1. Developing partnerships with educators in Iowa to engage in outreach activities that will increase interest in STEM careers and increase interest in robotics
  2. Building a community of educators in Iowa who are excited about working with this technology, who have an interest in working with K12 students to learn to program Cozmo and explore its capabilities, and are also willing to mentor UI students interested in STEM education
  3. Introducing future STEM educators to this technology, and encouraging them to find creative ways to incorporate technology into the classroom by developing active learning activities that support STEM education

Since the project entails introducing Cozmo to K12 STEM educators, teachers are encouraged to contact Dr. Szecsei to arrange for the schools to borrow a subset of these robots/tablets or to invite her to school STEM events.

Congratulations to the newly announced Innovation Fund awardees! These four programs were selected to receive seed funds to scale innovative STEM programming across Iowa. This is all made possible through generous contributions from private-sector partners! #IowaSTEM pic.twitter.com/5Z086Ht4Q9

— Iowa STEM (@IowaSTEM) February 6, 2019