Using robotics to equip K-12 teachers: Silicon prairie initiative for robotics in information technology (SPIRIT)

Alisa Gilmore, Bing Chen, Neal Grandgenett

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The Silicon Prairie Initiative for Robotics in Information Technology (SPIRIT) set out to create a revitalized model for empowering middle school teachers and students in STEM education, based on inquiry-based educational robotics strategies. In the three years of the project, 97 middle school teachers were trained in an intensive teacher professional development program involving a 2 week summer workshop and follow-up sessions throughout the school year. At the center of this initiative was the university-level TekBot® educational robotics platform developed at Oregon State University, later replaced by the CEENBoTTM mobile robotics platform developed at UNL. Both platforms were adapted to the middle school environment in this project. Teachers were empowered to embrace engineering for themselves with the experience of building a robot from a bag of electronic parts, which also led to their perceived increases in understanding of STEM-related topics and strategies, with consistent growth in engineering and robotics. Students in the classrooms of SPIRIT teachers also showed promising initial results by scoring above district and school averages in STEM subjects. A learning community was formed over the project's duration that brought engineers, university educators, district administrators, and teachers together. The work of the learning community has been expanded to the SPIRIT 2.0 project, which intends to continue to refine the assessments and educational products of the first initiative and develop a full grades 5-8 educational robotics curriculum for national distribution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2009
Event2009 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Austin, TX, United States
Duration: Jun 14 2009Jun 17 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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