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The Silicon Prairie Initiative for Robotics in Information Technology (SPIRIT) is a unique collaborative effort between the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) College of Engineering, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) College of Education, and the local Omaha Public Schools (OPS) system. With funding from an NSF ITEST grant, from 2006 – 2008 the initiative recruited and trained 97 math and science middle school teachers through summer workshops and follow-up sessions during the school year, with the goal of equipping teachers in hands-on engineering design principles and providing curriculum development support for STEM instruction. The centerpiece of the training was the university-level TekBot® educational robotics platform developed at Oregon State University, later replaced by the CEENBoT™ mobile robotics platform developed at UNL in the Computer and Electronics Engineering (CEEN) department. More than 9,000 students are expected to eventually participate in this model through in-school and summer programs developed by SPIRIT-trained teachers 1.


Gilmore, A., Sash, R., Grandgenett, N., Chen, B. (2009). Using robotics to equip K12 teachers: Silicon Prairie Initiative for Robotics in Information Technology (SPIRIT). Proceedings of the 2009 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference, Austin, Texas, June, 2009. © American Society for Engineering Education, 2009. Used by permission.