Integrating Computing and Robotics into K-12 Math Education

UCI University Club
Harry H. Cheng

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
University of California, Davis


The mission of the UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education (C-STEM) is to close the achievement gap in STEM for underrepresented minority and women, at the same time develop 21st century problem-solving skills for all students. The C-STEM program also aims to provide computer science education for all K-12 students through integrated learning. The center studies how to use computing and robotics technology to increase student interest and help them learn STEM subjects with an emphasis on Algebra, the gatekeeper for STEM disciplines. Researchers study how to streamline the curriculum on computing education in the context of STEM subjects in elementary, middle and high schools, as well as the first two years of college. Using the C-STEM integrated curriculum, students will have eight years of computer programming experience in C/C++ by the time they graduate from high school. In this presentation, I will share with the audience how we have developed innovative educational computing and robotics technologies (C-STEM Studio and RoboBlockly), Common Core State Standards Math compliant curriculum, and teaching strategies for integrating computing and robotics into math education in grades 4 to 12 to help close the math achievement gap and prepare students to be career and college ready. I will also present how both access and the success of the curriculum-based RoboPlay Competitions and Girls in Robotics Leadership (GIRL) camps impact students’ motivation and learning, especially for students from underrepresented and social economically disadvantaged groups and at-risk students.


Harry H. Cheng is a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and in graduate groups in computer science and in education, and director of the Integration Engineering Lab at UC Davis. He founded and directs the UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education (C-STEM). C-STEM is a UC-approved educational preparation program for undergraduate admission for all UC campuses and has UC A-G program status. His work on C-STEM has profoundly changed lives of many young men and women. Cheng is an internationally recognized leader in robotics and mechatronics fields. He has authored and coauthored more than 180 papers in refereed journals and conference proceedings. He holds two U.S. patents. He received an M.S. degree in mathematics and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1986 and 1989, respectively. He has taught introductory computer programming to engineering students, robotics, and engineering software design at UC Davis since 1992. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and a senior member of IEEE. Throughout his career, Cheng has received many awards, including the 2015 Distinguished Scholarly Public Serve Award from UC Davis Academic Senate and the 2013 ASME’s MESA Achievement Award for cumulative contributions to the field of mechatronic and embedded systems and applications (MESA).

Sponsored by UCI School of Education, Henry Samueli School of Engineering, Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences, School of Physical Sciences, OC STEM Initiative, and OC Pathways.