Center for Community Engagement

Pomona: "R" is for Robotics

Pomona

Students in the Walnut Valley and Pomona Unified School Districts are getting a crash course in robotics thanks to Cal Poly Pomona professor, Dr. Jawaharlal "Jawa" Mariappan. Following Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic, Robotics is gaining steam as the fourth R in education and Dr. Mariappan aims to stimulate an early interest in engineering and technology by introducing school children to this multidisciplinary field through his ENGR 200S course, School Robotics. Although its combination of computer science with mechanical, electrical, and electronics engineering highlight the complexities of robotics, new technologies make it easy for anyone to design, program and control their own robot. The School R Robotics program offers school children the opportunity to do just that through weekly hands-on activities.

The R Robotics program has been inspiring greater diversity in engineering by appealing to young women, who are greatly underrepresented in the field. Over a period of 12 weeks, Cal Poly Pomona engineering students and faculty mentor school children and train their teachers in the elements of robotics. Lessons include terminology, programming, loop command, and sumo robot strategies. After their robots are built during week one, students spend the remainder of the course programming them in preparation for the annual robotics competition titled "The Annual R Robotics Challenge at Cal Poly Pomona."

As an S-designated course, and the first within Engineering, students enrolled in ENGR 200S are required to participate in service-learning activities. Part of their service learning includes a short training that focuses on role play, understanding personalities, understanding learning styles, developing instructional strategies, and working with children before they can begin mentoring students. Through the network of elementary, middle and high school campuses Dr. Mariappan has partnered with, hundreds of Cal Poly Pomona students have benefited from the R Robotics program each year. As a result, Dr. Mariappan and his students have personally worked with more than 1,000 school-aged children during the past few years, making this the largest program of its kind in the country. As Dr. Mariappan explains it, "Service learning is an effective instructional approach that provides a framework for creating authentic learning experiences. Service learning is a natural fit for engineering. Incorporating service learning has changed the traditional, passive teacher-centered didactic approach to an active, learner-centered, meaningful engagement with students."

Read more about service learning and community engagement
at Cal Poly Pomona
.

View campus service-learning projects
involving early interest in engineering and math:
CSU Fullerton
CSU Fullerton

CSU Fullerton's project Mathematics Intensive Summer Session (MISS), now in its 23rd summer, is a voluntary four-week summer program, designed to help underrepresented high school girls succeed in college preparatory mathematics at the Algebra II level and above.

CSU Northridge
CSU Northridge

The Accelerated Coursework in Computer Science and Engineering for Student Success (ACCESS) program provides high school students with the opportunity to interact with both CSU Northridge faculty and current CSU Northridge engineering and computer science students who serve as mentors.

Cal Poly Pomona
Cal Poly Pomona

Following Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic, Robotics is gaining steam as the fourth "R" in education. Dr. Jawa Mariappan's School Robotics class offers engineering students and faculty the opportunity to visit local K-12 schools to train schoolteachers and mentor students in robotics through a variety of weekly hands-on activities.

San José State University
San José State University

At San José State, mentoring and service are at the core of student success. Engineering students enrolled in Community Action and Service, an engineering service-learning course led by Dr. Stacy Gleixner, volunteer at one of six local high schools through Project Lead the Way.

CSU Stanislaus
CSU Stanislaus

CSU Stanislaus students are helping elementary school children and their parents become math literate in their local shopping mall. By offering math homework help and enticing elementary students and their parents to play math board games and puzzles twice a week in the afternoons, Dr. Viji Sundar and her undergraduate students who are Math/Liberal Studies majors have been increasing math literacy in their community.