A program to empower students with technology by leveraging Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics and computer science talent with education expertise at partner universities is expanding beyond the Western Pennsylvania/West Virginia region to include satellite labs in Georgia and Utah.
With support from a $250,000 grant from the Infosys Foundation USA, CMU’s Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment (CREATE) Lab will work with partners in both states to provide educators with tools and training to help their students learn about technology and adapt it to their individual and community needs.
In Atlanta, the CREATE Lab Outreach team will work with Georgia Institute of Technology’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) to offer local teachers professional development and a lending library of CREATE technologies.
In partnership with Atlanta Public Schools (APS) and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, CEISMC will focus its efforts on the underserved Washington Cluster of APS for initial satellite development efforts. The new pre-K through 8 Hollis Innovation Academy, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) school opening this fall, will be the centerpiece and demonstration site for this work.
In Utah, the CREATE team will work with the Utah STEM Action Center (STEM AC), which drives research and implementation of STEM education best practices across the state. Its existing, strong network of educators, administrators and government and business leaders positions them to support and coordinate engagement in more than one location. STEM AC will establish two local CREATE Lab satellites at Southern Utah University and Utah Valley University.
“The Carnegie Mellon CREATE Lab is a wonderful combination of innovative, hands-on technology programs and local community action,” said Vandana Sikka, chairperson of the Infosys Foundation USA. “By combining these powerful forces we can empower the next generation of students with the creative confidence to be successful.”
The CREATE Lab is part of Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute and is directed by Illah Nourbakhsh, professor of robotics. Over the years, the lab has produced a number of technologies relevant to the classroom. These include “Arts & Bots” kits, which enable students to use robotics to study or make presentations on a wide range of academic subjects; Speck sensors, low-cost instruments that enable people to study air quality in their homes and schools; and GigaPan, a technology for producing panoramic, “explorable” images of the world around us.
CREATE began its regional satellite network in 2011, partnering with schools to help teachers incorporate these and other tools into their practice, and empower learners to employ technology for social good.
Dror Yaron, CREATE Lab director of outreach, said expanding nationally promises new opportunities as new populations and new ideas are added to the network. Both the Atlanta and Utah satellites already have attracted interest from business leaders, including the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, concerned about workforce development.
Previous CREATE satellites were established at Marshall, West Liberty, West Virginia and Carlow universities with support from the Benedum Foundation. The Satellite Network has expanded to include the Pittsburgh-based ASSET STEM Education and ABC CREATE, a collaborative of 15 school districts in the Alle-Kiski Valley supported by the Grable Foundation and coordinated by Penn State-New Kensington.