Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy

Use educational affordances of robotics to create CS-STEM opportunities for all learners

The Robotics Academy is a research, development, and outreach program within Carnegie Mellon University that studies how buildable and programmable agents can be used to teach CS & STEM skills at all ages. Robotics Academy research is in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University and partners such the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center and the RAND Corporation.

Teaching Programming through Robotics

• Witherspoon, E., Higashi, R., Schunn, C., Shoop, R., Baehr, E. (October 2017) Developing Computational Thinking through a Virtual Robotics Programming Curriculum. ACM Transactions on Computing Education, Vol. 18, No. 1, Article 4. [PDF]

• Flot, J., McKenna, J., Shoop, R. (2016) Helping Students Build Conceptual Models – the Lost Manual. Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy, Pittsburgh, PA. [PDF]

• Flot, J., Higashi, R., McKenna, J., Shoop, R., Witherspoon, E. (July 2016) Using Model-Eliciting Activities to Engage Students in Computational Thinking Practices Presented at the High Impact Technology Exchange Conference (2016 HI-TEC), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. [PDF]

• Flot, J., Friez, T., Schunn, C., Shoop, R., Witherspoon, E. (March 2016) Can Computational Thinking Practices Be Taught in Robotics Classrooms? Presented at the International Technology and Engineering Education Conference, National Harbor, Washington DC. [PDF]

• Liu, A., Schunn, C. D., Flot, J., & Shoop, R. (2013) The role of physicality in rich programming environments. Computer Science Education, 23(4), 315-331., [PDF]

• Flot, J., Shoop, R (November 2013) Foregrounding Math, Engineering, and Computer Science using Robotics. The presentation was given at the Technology Education and Engineering Association of Pennsylvania Annual Conference, Camp Hill Pennsylvania., [PDF copy of PowerPoint]

• Flot, J., Shoop, R (November 2013) Teaching Programming with Robot Virtual Worlds. The presentation was given at the Technology Education and Engineering Association of Pennsylvania Annual Conference, Camp Hill Pennsylvania., [PDF copy of PowerPoint]

• Liu, A., Newsom, J., Schunn, C., Shoop, R. Learn to program in half the time!Robot Magazine, 49-51. [Author Proof (PDF)]

• Soldaat, X., Friez, T., Flot, J. Pointers and Data Structures in ROBOTCRobot Magazine, 59-61. [Author Proof (PDF)]

• Liu, A., Newsom, J., Schunn, C., Shoop, R. Students Learn Programming Faster through 7. Robotic SimulationTech Directions, 16-19. [Author Proof (PDF)]

• Flot, J., Lui, A., Schunn, C., Shoop, R. (November 2012). Learning How to Program via Robot Simulation.  Robot Magazine, 68-70. [Author Proof (PDF)]

• Avanzato, R., Choset, H., Friez, T., Shoop, R. Veloso, M. (2011, December). Programming and Multi-Robot Communications.  Robot Magazine, 74-77. [Author Proof (PDF)]

• Atwood, T., Shoop, R. Carnegie Mellon Launches a Mega Million Dollar Robotics Education InitiativeRobot Magazine, 70-71. [Author Proof (PDF)]

• Shoop, R. (2011, May). FIRE Unveils Robot Virtual World Games.  Robot Magazine, 78-81. [Author Proof (PDF)]

• Shoop, R. (2011, January) Computer Science Student Network Project. Presented at the Computing Education for the 21st Century (CE21) meeting, New Orleans [Handout]

• Higashi, R., Shoop, R. (2011, November) Organizational Expectations Presented to Propel School System Teachers and Administrators, Robot Algebra Partnership Kickoff [Handout]

Badges, Motivation, and Assessments

• Higashi, R., & Schunn, C. D. (2020). Perceived relevance of digital badges predicts longitudinal change in program engagement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 112(5), 1020–1041.


• Witherspoon, E., Higashi, R., Schunn, C. D., Shoop, R. "Attending to structural programming features predicts differences in learning and motivation in a virtual robotics programming curriculum" Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, , v.34(2), , 2018


• Higashi, R., Schunn, C., Nguyen V., & Ososky, S. (2017). Coordinating Evidence Across Learning Modules using Digital Badges. In Sottilare, R., Graesser, A., Hu, X., and Goodwin, G. (Eds.). Design Recommendations for Intelligent Tutoring Systems: Volume 5 - Domain Modeling. Orlando, FL: U.S. Army Research Laboratory. ISBN 978-0-9893923-9-6. [Paper PDF]

• Menekse, M., Higashi, R., Schunn, C., & Baehr, E. "Exploring the role of robotics teams? collaboration quality on team performance in a robotics tournament." Journal of Engineering Education , v.106(4), , 2017

• Higashi, R., Schunn, C., Flot, J (May 2017) Different underlying motivations and abilities predict student versus teacher persistence in an online course. Education Tech Research Dev DOI 10.1007/s11423-017-9528-z [PDF]\

• Witherspoon, E. B., Schunn, C. D., Higashi, R. M., & Baehr, E. C. "Gender, interest and prior experience shape opportunities to learn programming in robotics competitions." International Journal of STEM Education , v.3(18) , 2016 , p.10.1186/s

• Abramovich, S., Schunn, C.D., Higashi, R. (2013) Are Badges Useful in Education?: it depends upon the type of badge and expertise of Learner. Educational Technology Research & Development, March 2013. DOI: 10.1007/s11423-013-9289-2. [Paper PDF]

• Higashi, R., Abramovich, S., Shoop, R., Schunn, C.D.(2012, June) The Roles of Badges in the Computer Science Student Network. 2012 GLS Conference [Paper PDF]

• Abramovich, S., Higashi, R., Hunkele, T. Schunn, C.D., Shoop, R. (2011, July) Achievement Systems to Boost Achievement Motivation. 2011 GLS Conference [Paper PDF]

Approaches in Teaching Mathematics and Robotics

• Flot, J., McKenna, J., (2018, July). Developing Computational Thinking through a Virtual Robotics Programming Curriculum. Computer Science Teachers Association. [Presentation (PDF)]

• Alfieri, L., Higashi, R., Shoop, R., Schunn, C.D., (2015, February). Case studies of a robot-based game to shape interests and hone proportional reasoning skills. International Journal of STEM Education. [Paper (PDF)]

• King, S., Stein, M., Schunn, C.D., (2012, May).Designing Educative Guides: Reconceptualizing Teacher’s Role in Teacherless Cognitive Tutor-based Robotics Instruction. Paper presented at the 2012 annual meeting of the American Society for Engineering Education, Vancouver, BC. [Paper (PDF)]

• Silk, E. M. (2011).Resources for learning robots: Environments and framings connecting math in robotics(Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh). Available from D-Scholarship at the University of Pittsburgh. (No. 8607) [Paper (PDF)] [Presentation (PDF)]

• Silk, E. M., Higashi, R., & Schunn, C. D. (2011, June).Resources for robot competition success: Assessing math use in grade-school-level engineering design. Paper to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Engineering Education, Vancouver, BC, Canada. [Paper (PDF)] [Presentation (PDF)]

• Silk, E. M., & Schunn, C. D. (2011, June).Calculational versus mechanistic mathematics in propelling the development of physical knowledge. Paper to be presented at the 41st annual meeting of the Jean Piaget Society, Berkeley, CA, USA. [Paper (PDF)] [Presentation (PDF)]

• Silk, E. M., & Schunn, C. D. (2011, April).Resources for learning robots: Facilitating the incorporation of mathematical models in students’ engineering design strategies.Paper to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA, USA. [Paper (PDF)] [Presentation (PDF)]

• Silk, E. M., Schunn, C. D., Shoop, R., & Stein, M. K. (2011, March).The Robot Algebra Project. Poster presented at the eighth annual NSF ITEST Summit, Arlington, VA, USA. [Poster (PDF)]

• Silk, E. M., Higashi, R., Shoop, R., & Schunn, C. D. (2010). Designing technology activities that teach mathematics. The Technology Teacher, 69 (4), 21-27. [Paper (PDF)]

• Silk, E. M., Schunn, C. D., & Shoop, R. (2009).Synchronized robot dancing: Motivating efficiency & meaning in problem-solving with robotics. Robot Magazine, 17, 74-77. [Author Proof (PDF)]

• Silk, E. M., & Schunn, C. D. (2008, June).Using robotics to teach mathematics: Analysis of a curriculum designed and implemented. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Engineering Education, Pittsburgh, PA, USA. [Paper (PDF)] [Presentation (PDF)]

• Silk, E. M., Schunn, C. D., Higashi, R., Shoop, R., Dietrich, A., & Reed, R. (2007).The use of robotics to teach mathematics. Robotics Educators Conference, Butler, PA, USA. [Presentation (PDF)]

Robotics and Automation in Advanced Manufacturing

Higashi, Nguyen & Flot, Results of National Association of Manufacturers Member Interviews around ML and AI [PDF]

Andrew, Megan, Timothy Marler, Jesse Lastunen, Hannah Acheson-Field, and Steven W. Popper, How Can the United States Prepare a Workforce for Advanced Manufacturing Using Robotics?. Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute in Pittsburgh, 2020.

Andrew, Megan, Timothy Marler, Jesse Lastunen, Hannah Acheson-Field, and Steven W. Popper, An Analysis of Education and Training Programs in Advanced Manufacturing Using Robotics. Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute, Pittsburgh, Pa., 2020.

Other Notable Research

• Antin & Churchill, Badges In Social Media: A Social Psychological Perspective – In this short paper Antin and Churchill describe badges from a social scientist’s perspective. [PDF]

National Studies around CS-STEM

• National Science Board (2010). Preparing the next generation of STEM Innovators: Identifying and developing our nation’s human capital. Publication NSB-10-33 of the National Science Foundation.

• Gal-Ezer, J. & Stephenson, C. (2009). The Current State of Computer Science in U.S. High Schools: A Report from Two National Surveys. Journal for Computing Teachers, Spring 2009

• CSTA (Computer Science Teachers Association) (2009). CSTA National Secondary Computer Science Survey: Comparison of 2005, 2007, and 2009 Survey Results.

• “Enrollments and Degree Production at US CS Departments Drop further in 2006/2007”, CRA Bulletin, March 2008.

• “Fastest Growing Occupations”, Monthly Labor Review, November 2007.