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UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education (C-STEM) --- Research and Outreach
Home > Teachers & Administrators > Professional Development > 2013-2014 > Summer Institute 2013 > Robotics and Computing

Robotics and Computing

Robotic Technologies and Computer Programming


Location: 1062 Bainer Hall
Time: 8:30am-5:00pm
Date: June 24-28, 2013

Course Description

Robotics can easily get students engaged and excited in learning science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts with fun. The UC Davis C-STEM Center and its industrial partners have developed an innovative modular robotics technology called Mobot for integrating computing, robotics, and engineering into K-12 math and science education. A Mobot is designed as a building block. However, a single Mobot is a fully functional robot. It can perform a multitude of novel robot locomotion, including inch-worming, rolling, arched rolling, turning, and standing up. Multiple modules can be interconnected into various geometries for different applications, such as a snake, four-legged walker, and humanoid. This Insitute provides professional development for STEM teachers with the cutting-edge robotics and computing technology to engage students on critical thinking and collaborative learning of math, science, engineering, and computer programming with the 21st century career skills. The C-STEM Center will help attendees to implement the program during the academic year.

Intended Audience

This Institute is geared toward grades 5-12 teachers and afterschool program paraeducators, who teach Algebra Readiness, Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Engineering, Technology, Robotics, Physical Science, Applied Physics, Computer Science, and other STEM courses. No prior computer programming and robotics experience is needed. More specifically:

  • Teachers who are interested in learning new ways to engage students in analytical thinking and problem solving skills where traditional methods have failed.
  • Teachers who want to teach “at risk” and credit deficient students using hands-on activities and project-based methods in STEM subjects to close the achievement gap.
  • Teachers who want to teach “gifted” students to excel in math with hands-on activities and project-based methods.
  • Teachers who are looking to increase their use of computers and robotics as a teaching and learning tool.
  • Teachers who are interested in providing their students with 21st Century career skills.
  • Afterschool teachers and paraeducators who are interested in providing their students with hands-on STEM related activities.
  • Teachers interested in advising students on participating in the RoboPlay competitions.

Outline of Topics

Modular Robotic Technologies for Integrated Learning of STEM Subjects

  • Working principals of robotics
  • Controlling robots using a control panel
  • Introduction to programming for robots
  • Interacting with robots through variables and input/output functions
  • Controlling single robots through C/C++ programs
  • Controlling multiple robots through C/C++ programs
  • Writing programs to control multiple robots to perform identical tasks

3D Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and 3D Printing for Mobots

  • Assemble a Mobot using 3D CAD software PTC Creo Parametric.
  • Design parts working with Mobots using PTC Creo Parametric and for 3D printing

Computer Programming in C/C++

  • How a computer works
  • Writing your first C program
  • Variables in algebra and their applications in computing
  • Math expressions and operators, and their applications in computing
  • Selection statements and loops in C (Logical reasoning, critical thinking, and their applications Graphing and Solving Quadratics)
  • Modular programming with functions in C (Writing functions and plotting)
  • Arrays for processing data in C (Visualize experimental and measurement data)
  • Working with data files
  • How to programm in C/C++ to solve STEM problems.
  • Quick geometry visualization and animation in C (for future applications in geometry, physics, etc.)
  • Integrating computer programming in C/C++ and robotics into the classroom teaching of science, technology, engineering, and math subjects.

Outcome for Trainees’ Students

  1. Through a set of interactive computing and applied problem solving activities in a C/C++ interpreter Ch, students will gain a better understanding of abstract math concepts and their applications
  2. Students will learn the fundamentals of computing and robotics, underlying working principles of computing, robotics, engineering,3D design/printing, and computer programming for problem solving.
  3. Students will be able to learn other STEM subjects, such as math, physics, robotics, engineering, biology, and chemistry, more effectively with computational thinking and computer-aided problem solving skills.
  4. Identify, formulate, and solve STEM problems
  5. Effectively use computer and computer programming for future employment.
  6. Understand working principals of robotics and program robotics to accomplish desired tasks.
  7. Students will be able to participate in the UC Davis Secondary School RoboPlay Competitions and Math Programming Competition on the UC Davis C-STEM Day in May each year. Students will learn team work and communication skills. RoboPlay is designed for K-12 students to play with robots while exploring their creativity in writing, art, music, choreography, design, and film making and at the same time seamlessly learn and apply computing and STEM concepts in solving practical problems.


  • Deadline for early registration: May 24, 2013
  • Final deadline for registration: June 17, 2013
  • $499 for one course / $799 for both this course and the complementary one registered before May 24, 2013;
    $599 / $899 before June 17, 2013. Space is limited; please register here to reserve your space.
  • Please make checks out to “The Regents of the University of California”.
  • A modular robot Mobot will be used in the training. If you do not have one yet, you may get one for $150 and two for $300 in the registration.
  • A laptop running either Windows or Mac OS X is necessary during the training.
  • Registration covers instruction, supplementary textbooks, teaching materials, software licenses for teaching, morning beverages, lunch, and UC Davis C-STEM Center support for implementation of the program during the academic year
  • No refund after instruction begins.


  1. An optional $145 for 4 Continuing Education Unit quarter credits from UC Davis Extension. Credits request forms available on the first day of the class.


The UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education (C-STEM)


UC Davis C-STEM Center, Yolo County Office of Education, Sacramento County Office of Education, and California AfterSchool Network

Financial Supporter

National Science Foundation under the Grant No. CNS-1132709, IIS-1256780, and IIS-1208690


For more information, please contact:

Heidi Espindola, Project Manager
UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education
University of California
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
Phone: (530) 752-9082
Email: hespindola(AT)ucdavis(DOT)edu

Teachers’ Testimonials

“My experience with C-STEM has been far more rewarding than I expected. My principal signed me up for a 2 week training last summer with Professor Cheng at UCD Davis. I was very tentative to attend because I had no background in computer science and did not see how it could be helpful to my middle school students. I was very wrong. I attended the 2 week training and joined for the fellowship to help develop the curriculum. I taught programming as an elective using the C-STEM curriculum this year and was thrilled to see how it positively affected such a wide range of my students. My low students were so motivated by learning how to operate the robots that they improved their understanding of difficult math concepts like rates, proportions, and writing and solving equations. My higher students were excited by the new challenge and all the different possibilities that they devoted extra time to the material outside of school and are now looking up what computer science classes they can take at the High School. This has been a very rewarding experience for my students and I can’t wait to teach it again next year.”

— Megan Schoellhamer, Math Teacher, Bridgeway Island Elementary School

“This pilot program has been extremely beneficial to me. Consequently, I am now determined to continue using what I have been learning about teaching the C++ programming language in my robotics classes in the future.”

— Dubarrie Fagout, Technology Teacher, River City High School, West Sacramento, California

“This is a great way to engage kids in math- especially those students who struggle to see how math relates to the real world. When we talk about giving kids ’21st century skills’ and ‘closing the achievement gap’, the C-STEM curricula can really make a difference for students and teachers.”

— Brian Donnelly Ed.D., STEM Program Coordinator and Industrial Technology Teacher, Harper Junior High School

“Unlocking a well hidden truth: Math can be a wonderfully creative and useful tool, not only in school but in your everyday life. Using Ch as a medium allows students to be the artists and algebra to be the paintbrush.”

— Chris Schlesselman, Lead CTE Teacher, Technology & Engineering Design Academy, Hiram W Johnson High School

“The C-STEM curricula can benefit kids by making mathematics an exciting, interactive, tangible thing. Not only will this content help students in their math classes, it will initiate them into a fraternity of a very few, those that can program computers! These are marketable skills that can help pay college bills and pave their way to rewarding occupations. I am very proud to have been a part of this program because I know it will help kids.”

— Joseph Stymeist, Engineering Teacher, School of Engineering and Sciences

“The C-STEM curriculum will benefit students by providing them with the necessary critical thinking and problem solving skills that the job market requires. I feel that in our current curriculum ideas and facts are stressed more than strategies and analytic skills. In my opinion, by stressing the strategies and skills needed to solve problems, rather than focusing on all the individual problems themselves, our students will be fully equipped to tackle any obstacle. The C-STEM curriculum will provide such skills.”

— Ryan Mangan, Engineering Teacher, School of Engineering and Sciences