Sneaking in through the back door: Introducing K-12 teachers to robot programming

Authors: Jennifer S Kay, Janet G. Moss, Shelly Engelman, Tom Mcklin


Few question the need to offer excellent programs in computer science at the Bachelors and Graduate Levels. But computer science is not just for computer scientists! An understanding of key computer science concepts is essential to comprehending the underpinnings of what drives much of the culture and environment that students will encounter upon graduation. Unfortunately, in the United States most state, regional, and national K-12 standards do not include computer science among the core competencies required of all students. However, careful study reveals many opportunities to satisfy mandatory non-computer-science standards while simultaneously teaching important concepts in computer science. This paper begins with an overview of these standards and suggests that educational robotics could be incorporated into K-12 curricula to satisfy these standards. But even if robots truly are a magic panacea, most K-12 teachers have never used them. The remainder of this paper discusses a pair of 3 day workshops we offered in the summers of 2011 and 2012 which were designed to introduce K-12 teachers with no prior programming experience to LEGO robot programming. We discuss the content of the workshops, how teachers’ skills and attitudes changed as a result of these workshops, and how teachers used the material they learned in their schools.

Kay, Jennifer & Moss, Janet & Engelman, Shelly & Mcklin, Tom. (2014). Sneaking in through the back door: Introducing K-12 teachers to robot programming. 499-504. 10.1145/2538862.2538972.

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