WaterBotics is a STEM curriculum developed and implemented by the Center for Innovation in Engineering & Science Education (CIESE) at Stevens Institute of Technology with support from two research grants from the National Science Foundation spanning nine years. The original program, known as Build IT (Award #0624709), provided over 2,600 students from socioeconomically and racially diverse middle and high schools throughout New Jersey with intensive, in-class experiences in the design, construction, and programming of underwater robotic vehicles.
A subsequent scale-up grant, known as the Build IT Underwater Robotics Scale-Up for STEM Learning and Workforce Development (BISU) Project (Award #0929674), expanded WaterBotics to national and state partners, with a focus on girls and underserved minorities, through formal, school-based classes and informal, out-of-school education programs. As the lead agency for this scale-up effort, CIESE further refined and adapted the curriculum and conducted training and support for hub site partners. CIESE also oversaw project research which investigated the impact of the program on students, training and classroom implementation, and scale-up and sustainability efforts.
The National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) was a core partner in the scale-up grant, leading the project’s efforts to engage girls through informal education programs. They supported project dissemination and scale-up efforts on a national level and through specific collaborative sites in the Pacific Northwest, Texas, and Kentucky.
Five regional hub sites were established during the five-year scale-up grant to adapt and sustain the WaterBotics curriculum. These hub sites were responsible for attracting both formal and informal educators throughout their geographical region, training them in the curriculum, and providing support during their implementations.
Sinclair Community College in Dayton, OH and Triton College in River Grove, IL implemented WaterBotics with teachers who primarily used the curriculum as part of science, technology, and pre-engineering courses.
The Texas Girls Collaborative Project (TxGCP), the Kentucky Girls STEM Collaborative Project (KyGSC), and the Pacific Northwest Girls Collaborative Project (PNWGCP) implemented the project with informal education partners whose primary goal was to interest and engage girls in STEM programs.
In addition to the hub sites, a partnership with the International Technology and Engineering Education Association (ITEEA) facilitated the development and dissemination of a hybrid professional development program which incorporated both face-to-face interaction and online components, such as webcasts, videos, live chats, discussion boards, and email.
The evaluation and research studies for the scale-up grant were led by the Institute for Learning Technologies at Teachers College, Columbia University and Evaluation & Research Associates in Lynnwood, Washington. Both teams worked together throughout the project.