Title: SPIRIT: Silicon Prairie Initiative on Robotics in IT
Abstract: The "Silicon Prairie Initiative on Robotics in IT" (SPIRIT), a collaboration between the University of Nebraska and Omaha Public Schools, is a three-year Comprehensive ITEST Project for Students and Teachers. SPIRIT targets 105 science and mathematics teachers in grades 7-8, each of whom receives more than 100 hours of summer professional development and 50 hours of follow-up support in developing in-school curricular activities. More than 9,000 students are expected to participate through in-school and summer programs. The centerpiece of the project is a unversity level TekBot™ learning platform that is being adapted to the middle school level. This platform can be used to demonstrate basic applications in wireless, video and signal processing, sensors, video displays, electronics, control systems, embedded systems, digital logic and introductory programming. The curriculum to be developed in the project employs TekBots as a fundamental strategy for problem-based instructional activities. It is adaptable, expandable and cost-effective, providing learning experiences that can extend into high school and college. Results will be disseminated through publications and presentations, teacher workshops, displays prepared for the Omaha Children's Museum and collaborations with other universities using robotics platforms. An interactive, dynamic website will be created with modules and tutorials, uploadable programs, chat rooms and links to robotics research.