Senior Researcher 

Program/Areas of Interest

STEM Learning, Robotics and Computer Science, K-12, Informal, Design

TERC Projects

Biographical Summary

Debra's research examines STEM learning in K-12 and informal environments. One line of this work explores approaches that increase CS engagement and learning to broaden participation of diverse and underserved audiences. A second line of work explores youth and professional engagement in design processes. Before joining TERC, Debra worked at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE), and for the educational television show Blues Clues. Debra holds an MA in Educational Psychology from Teachers College Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh.

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Selected Publications & Presentations

  • Bernstein, D., Mutch-Jones, K., Hamner, E., & Cross, J. (2016).  Robots and Romeo and Juliet:  Studying Teacher Integration of Robotics into Middle School Curricula. Paper accepted at the International Conference of the American Educational Research Association, Washington, DC.
  • Puttick, G., Bernstein, D., Kies, K. and Garibay, C. (2015). Learning and behavior change in a Girl Scout program focused on energy conservation: Saving energy to ‘save the planet.’ Journal for Sustainability Education, 45 (1).
  • Bernstein, D., & Puttick, G.  (2014).  Seeding social norms about energy conservation among Girl Scouts.  Applied Environmental Education & Communication, 13(3), 171-182.
  • Bernstein, D., McKenney, S., Barber, J., Bopardikar, A., Drayton, B., Walkup, S., Pareja Roblin, N., & Schunn, C. (2014). Design dimensions: In-depth retrospective studies of K-12 science curriculum design. Poster presentation at the annual meeting of the International Society for Design and Development in Education (ISDDE), Cambridge, UK.
  • Touretzky, D.S., Marghitu, D., Ludi, S., Bernstein, D., & Ni, L.  (2013).  Accelerating K-12 computational thinking using scaffolding, staging, and abstraction.  SIGCSE 2013, Denver, CO.
  • Gomez, K., Bernstein, D., Zywica, J., & Hamner, E.  (2012).  Building technical knowledge and engagement in robotics:  An examination of two out-of-school programs.  In B.Barker, G. Nugent, N. Grandgenett, &V.I. Adamchuk (Eds.), Robotics in K-12 Education:  A New Technology for Learning (pp. 222‐244).
  • Bernstein, D., & Hamner, E. (March, 2012).  Exploring the impact of family involvement on youth engagement in a creative robotics workshop.  Paper presented at the meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Indianapolis, IN.
  • Bernstein, D.  (2010). Robot Diaries:  Encouraging and enabling technological creativity.  Poster presented at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Chicago, IL.
  • Hamner, E., Lauwers, T., & Bernstein, D. (2010).  The debugging task:  Evaluating a robotics design workshop.  Proceedings of the AAAI Symposium onUsing Robots to Promote Learning: Design and Evaluation.
  • Bernstein, D. & Crowley, K. (2008).  Searching for signs of intelligent life:  An investigation of young children’s beliefs about robot intelligence.  Journal of the Learning Sciences, 17(2), 225-247.
  • Bernstein, D., Crowley, K., & Nourbakhsh, I. (2007).  Working with a robot:  Exploring relationship potential in human-robot systems.  Interaction Studies, 8(3), 465-482.