Robin Shoop has a name for what Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Academy offers kids: “hard fun.”
“The idea is that these programs must be rigorous, but fun,” says Shoop, director of the Academy. A public school teacher for 28 years, Shoop knows the importance of making math and science fun. “Kids like robots and are innately curious about how they work,” he says. “Finding answers to their questions is fun, but technically challenging, and that makes robotics uniquely suited to teaching students computer science, engineering and mathematics.”
Part of CMU’s world-renowned Robotics Institute, the Academy has been teaching children robotics since 2000. In that time it’s helped thousands of teachers incorporate robotics into their lesson plans.
“If we want America to lead the world in innovation,” says Shoop, “we need more students studying computer science.” As part of the Pittsburgh Kids and Creativity Network, the Academy strives to empower children by ensuring they are mathematically competent and technologically literate. Its goals include persuading students to pursue robotics in their studies and careers, and fostering future technological entrepreneurship.
“America is still the land of opportunity,” says Shoop, “but there is nothing equal about the resources children begin their lives with. Education can provide opportunity and be a changemaker.”
Editor note: portions of this profile were adapted from the following sources: