The Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education at the University of California, Davis, has released version 4 of its popular C-STEM Studio software suite. In addition to free breakthrough tools for teaching math, coding, robotics and making, this major update includes expanded support with textbooks and curriculum for Lego Mindstorms NXT and EV3 robots, Raspberry Pi computers and Arduino control boards as well as Barobo Linkbots. These hardware platforms and related curriculum are seamlessly integrated in C-STEM Studio for learning math with hands-on physical computing and real-world projects.
C-STEM Studio includes code, comprehensive documentation, teacher guides and textbooks in one download. All the software, textbooks, and curricula are freely available at c-stem.ucdavis.edu/studio/. Detailed release notes can be found here.
Using computing and robots for hands-on teaching of math and science can inspire and engage students who have otherwise turned off their interest in math and science subjects, according to Harry Cheng, director of the center and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UC Davis.
The center is a UC Approved Educational Preparation Program for Undergraduate Admission for all UC campuses and has UC A-G Program Status. Since 2010 the Center has received over $5 million in grants from the National Science Foundation and as well as support from the California Department of Education in partnership with school districts and county offices of education. The C-STEM Math-ICT Curriculum provides K-12 students with up to 13 years of hands-on integrated math and computer science education.
The Center’s rigorous curriculum is already in use in about 200 elementary, middle and high schools in California and across the country, affecting some 10,000 students. The Center focuses on algebra, a gatekeeper for high-school graduation and careers in STEM fields and the algebra curriculum is fully aligned with Common Core State Standards in Mathematics. For at-risk and gifted students alike, C-STEM program can significantly increase math performance and close the achievement gap.
RoboBlockly, puzzle-piece programming in Ch/C/C++
C-STEM Studio includes RoboBlockly, a “puzzle-piece” programming tool that generates Ch/C/C++ code that can be used to control both real and virtual robots. The RoboBlockly curriculum includes more than 200 student self-guided coding, robotics, and math activities, in addition to theme-based projects. Teachers can also create their own activities tailored for their teaching through the RoboBlockly Activity Portal.
Five Hour of Code math, coding, and robotics activities in RoboBlockly are specially designed for teachers and students with different skill levels and interests to participate in and celebrate CS Education Week.
Roboblockly can be used with a modern web browser on any computing devices including laptops, tablets, iPads, and smartphones, and is available in multiple languages.
Schools using the C-STEM curriculum can attend the annual theme-based level playing field RoboPlay Competition held every May at UC Davis and in Orange County. The RoboPlay Challenge Competition is designed for students to showcase their real-world math problem solving skills in a competitive environment. The competition simulates a real-world problem, where a robotic solution must be quickly developed and deployed, using only existing resources with the constraint of the time. School districts can also host their own RoboPlay competitions using materials from previous years.
The RoboPlay Video Competition is designed for students to learn robotics while having fun and exploring their creativity in writing, storytelling, art, music, choreography, design, video editing and film production while at the same time seamlessly learning math and computer science. With the new version of C-STEM Studio, students worldwide working with the popular Lego Mindstorms NXT and EV3 robots can now participate in the RoboPlay Video Competition. This year, Hewlett Packard Enterprise will sponsor one team to submit a video for the 2018 RoboPlay Video Competition at each of the 100 California schools that have not previously participated. Teacher advisers for student teams can submit their applications on-line.
This year’s theme for RoboPlay is Manufacturing and Automation. The center is seeking more industrial partners and sponsors to showcase their real-world manufacturing and automation solutions in short video clips for K-12 students to learn manufacturing and automation.
Training for Teachers
The center organizes an Annual Conference on Integrated Computing and STEM Education. The center’s unique professional development program trains teachers, including those without prior computing and robotics experience, to integrate computing, robotics, and making into their classroom teaching through on-going 1-Day Workshop, 2-Day Workshop, 2-Day Academy, 1-Week Institute, 1-Week Workshop, On-Site Professional Development, and Train-the-Trainer Affiliate Program. The certified C-STEM trainers can provide training for teachers in different regions.
GIRL Summer Camps
The C-STEM GIRL (Girls in Robotics Leadership) Camps in different regions are focused on motivating girls in middle school through peer mentoring by college girls to learn leadership and STEM concepts using a fun and exciting robotics-based curriculum. All GIRL summer camps are funded by various sponsors and attendance is free for camp participants. With C-STEM Studio v4.0, Lego Mindstorms NXT/EV3 and/or Linkbot robots can now be used for the camps. Schools, districts, colleges, and non-profit organizations can apply to become C-STEM GIRL Camp Affiliates to host GIRL camps on their sites.