ThinkTank Development Team

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The Robotics Resource Center at WPI is designed to provide support to on-campus and off-campus activities and groups for projects and competitive robotics. The RRC hosts a number of robotics events each year, provides guidance and materials for student projects, and supports the Robotics Engineering major. The staff consists of Ken Stafford, Brad Miller, and Colleen Shaver.

Promoting STEM Education Through After-School LEGO Programs

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Presentation given by James Lynch, Jenny Filipi, Ian Thompson, Leigh Johnson, and Devin McKinnon as part of the 2009 FIRST Robotics Conference sponsored by Rolls-Royce and WPI.

Starting at the end of our rookie year, Team 2220 began a program of after-school classes that have broadened awareness of FIRST. Our program has spread from one elementary school to three in less than two years. Our high school team members teach students in grades one through five using LEGO Mindstorms kits and curriculums they have written. The goal of this program is to start more FLL teams by involving teachers and raising their interest in STEM activities. By stimulating interest in LEGO Robotics, we intend to initiate more STEM learning opportunities in schools. To aid in this STEM curriculum development, we plan to create a continuing education accreditation program for educators interested in bringing LEGO Mindstorms into their schools.

Our program is a partnership that has developed between Community Education, local elementary schools, and our team. Community Education provides funding for LEGO Mindstorms kits and teachers' stipends through grants co-written with our team. The local elementary schools supply educators to support the student teachers and space for the classes while our team contributes the student teachers and computers. We foresee our program expanding into all elementary schools in our district within the next five years.

This presentation will provide details on how to get a program like this started, how to apply for and win grants, and our plans for motivating more educators toward STEM curriculum. We will provide copies of a flow chart of steps to building a successful program and will share examples of lesson plans.

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