Research Activity

Our goal was to create and research an integrated learning experience that incorporated biology, engineering, and computing. The project worked in multiple states, in urban and suburban school districts with diverse student demographics. Over 3 years, we worked with 22 middle school teachers and nearly 800 students.  

The Designing Biomimetic Robots project helped students develop knowledge, practices, and skills in engineering, science, and computational thinking. Science, engineering, and technology teachers participated in professional development, implemented the curriculum, and suggested valuable improvements to the curriculum. 

Our specific research activities were guided by the overarching question: How does the BioRobots learning environment support student engagement in interdisciplinary learning?    

Implementation is now complete after 3 years, and below are some examples of the project’s published research. 

Publications and Presentations 

Shaw, F., Kshirsagar, K., Wendell, K., Danahy, E., Bernstein, D., Puttick, G., & Cassidy, M. (2020, October). Characterizing student artifacts in a multi-disciplinary biomimicry and robotics unit. Paper accepted for presentation at FabLearn Conference (Virtual). 

Wendell, K., Shaw, F., Kshirsagar, K., Danahy, E., Bernstein, D., Puttick, G., & Cassidy, M. (2020, June), Navigating dual goals of team collaboration and design concept development in a middle school bio-inspired robotics unit. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Nashville, TN (Virtual). 

Bernstein, D., Danahy, E., Puttick, G., Cassidy, M., Wendell, K., & Shaw, F. (June, 2019). Designing Biomimetic Robots: An Interdisciplinary Middle School Curriculum. Paper presented at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.  

Shaw, F., Wendell, K., Danahy, E., Bernstein, D., Puttick, G., & Cassidy, M. (April, 2019). Designing Biomimetic Robots. In G. Dellavecchia (Chair), Designing for Design: Creating Learning Environments that Support Equitable Engineering in Elementary and Middle School Settings. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Toronto, ON, Canada.  

Bernstein, D., Puttick, G., Cassidy, M., Wendell, K., Danahy, E., & Shaw, F. (April, 2019). Designing Biomimetic Robots to Support Multidisciplinary Engagement in Middle School. Paper presentation at the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Baltimore, MD. 

Bernstein, D., Puttick, G., Wendell, K., Shaw, F., Danahy, E., & Cassidy, M. (August, 2018). Designing Biomimetic Robots in Middle School. Paper presentation at the Connected Learning Summit, Cambridge, MA.  

Shaw, F. and Wendell, K. and Puttick, G. and Bernstein, D. and Danahy, E.. “Problem Scoping in Designing Biomimetic Robots,” Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences, 2018. 

The BioRobots research project is an NSF-sponsored collaboration (NSF #1742127) between TERC and Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO). Any opinions or findings expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of the NSF.