By Robert E. Walker, Robotics Teacher, Moanalua High School, Honolulu, Hawaii and Arthur L. Costa, Professor Emeritus, California State University, Sacramento
Robotics courses must be more than learning about how machines perform human functions. The ever-changing technological advances require employees to possess a vast knowledge base. Well-prepared students who seek a career in engineering, technology, and mathematics must possess not only individual skills but also personal character traits and thinking dispositions. Academic communities must reinforce both human communication skill development and instill persistent adaptable self- teaching traits into individuals, thus preparing them for real world, real job, and real life.
“Quad D Robotics: Innovative Inventions Curriculum,” authored by Mr. Robert E. Walker, (“QuadDRoboticsCurriculum.com,”) offers just such preparation. “Quad D Robotics Curriculum” defines its mission as, “preparing individuals intellectually for unexpected events and problem solving situations, being adaptable to workplace challenges in an ever-changing technological environment.” “Quad D Robotics” is an unpredictable, unscripted, employment simulated technologically based educational experience. Common Core Standards and CORE curriculum content applications are aligned and evident throughout the Quad D based curriculum. This Innovative Inventions Curriculum allows for a very unique educational experience, as if the students were already on the job. The classroom becomes a place of simulated employment, including random student groupings, opportunities for students to apply CORE related content, while creating robots through human to human interaction strategies and experiencing an innovative invention structured curriculum.
The curriculum is unlike the scripted and predictable robotic courses and tournaments, which limit the student’s opportunity for innovative creativity as well as CORE content application. “Quad D Robotics” is unpredictable, unscripted, student driven, an innovative invention based experience. The instructor and group leader supports the group members… as they all work together to develop their robots (all students must be active contributors) as diagramed in the “Quad D Robotics Curriculum” strategy, “Walker Triangle for Success.”
The curriculum is built around the following attributes:
- Common mission-driven,
- random grouping,
- workplace simulated,
- daily connections to a real work place situation,
- scripted sensor testing,
- some initial scripted robotic building tasks including
- hand and computer programming with demonstrations and sign off,
- programming research including student documentation for programming options,
- student ideas and designing,
- student proposals to teacher,
- contracting groups,
- organization while constructing robots, testing / tweaking, problem solving, more testing, final demo, student reflection including the 5 E;s,
- a common core, criteria based, group power point, and recovery of robotic kits as well as the work environment (school lab).
And that’s not all. Because of the employee’s need for personal characteristics and thinking dispositions, “Quad D Robotics: Innovative Invention” course is also infused with “Habits of Mind” which include 16 dispositions developed by Costa and Kallick (2008. 2014) and “TRIBES” developed by Jean Gibbs (1987, 2006) which is a curriculum for social development and cooperative learning. The inclusion of these learning essentials are evident, identified, and reinforced throughout the curriculum.
The “Habits of the Mind” empower the student’s metacognition by taking ownership of their thinking capacities and practices. Throughout their educational experiences they become spectators of their own processes of mind. They learn how to think interdependently, to analyze and solve problems with creativity and accuracy. They become skillful human-to-human communication thus, allowing for positive individual development, effective and efficient thought practices, and successful future employment experiences.
“TRIBES” encourages student’s self- reflections, student based project evaluations, and a foundation for students to create technological evidence that summarizes their overall learning experiences and project outcomes. With “TRIBES,” every group member is “heard, welcomed, and appreciated.” Even if they differ in opinion and common beliefs on any given topic, and / or situation, other words, all members have a voice. The “TRIBES” ultimate goal is to develop a truly safe community for learners.
TRIBES grouping and instructional strategies are effective at producing a quality project in a very structured, safe learning environment. While allowing opportunities to flex the curriculum content, due to school scheduling constraints and unexpected required administration add-on’s, such as, a new school-wide, reading level intervention program, new academic testing by grade level, etc… Reflection is also key in a true “TRIBES” and “Quad D Robotics” learning community, not only useful for individual or group reflections, but also reflection can be an effective evaluation and data collecting tool.
“Quad D Robotics: Innovation Inventions Curriculum’s” common tasks are to design, develop, modify, and test robotic innovative invention theories and principles, through student grouping structure and CORE application opportunities. The experience allows students to be hired, as if they are employees, their grade is their pay. Real workplace structure / experiences are discussed, and elaborated upon for student comprehension on a daily basis. The assignments include some limited, predictable, scripted curriculum, including an initial manufacturer’s robotic building task. Quad D generated hand and computer programming strategies, with on-going demonstrations, programing research, student documentation for programming options, student ideas and designing, student proposals to teacher, contracting groups, organization while constructing robots, testing / tweaking, problem solving, more testing, final demo, student reflection including the 5 E;s, a common core, criteria based, group power point, and recovery of robotic kits as well as the work environment (school lab). “HOM’S,” “TRIBES,” and “Quad D Robotics: Innovative Invention Curriculum” are evident, identified, and reinforced throughout the Quad D Curriculum.
The chart below illustrates how “Habits of the Mind” and “T.R.I.B.E.S” are infused into the “Quad D Robotics: Innovative Inventions Curriculum” (Technological Instruction)
|Habits of the Mind||
Quad D Robots Innovative
Keep Attempting, Keep Attempting,
Keep Attempting, if one falls short…don’t
give up and attempt again!
|Inclusion Activities /
|Managing Impulsivity||Empowering one’s ability to recognize
and counter the human emotional stages
encountered through life experiences and
| Stage 1 Anxiety,
Stage 2 Defensive,
Stage 3 Acting Out
Even if student views of an issue /project
idea varies from others, an agreement to
work through differences, while realizing,
“I’m Human / Your Human,” and that
principle alone demands respect for each
other, as human beings.
|Everyone should be,
Be open minded, welcome new ideas /
concepts, reinvent the wheel at times, and
be able to adapt to ever- changing
technological advances, out of our control
situations, and life challenges.
| Inclusion Activities/
Reflection: What communication occurred…
verbal and non-verbal? Reflection is a key
factor in owning ones learning experiences,
and having the desire to grow personally
and professionally from those valuable
experiences, of our past. Reflection also
serves as a great evaluation tool, whether
it is written form, or a rubric, sharing with
others, or simply a moment for serious thought.
Testing theories, hypothesizing, being
persistent, keep attempting, tweaking
technology on project ideas, striving for
perfection to obtain desired outcomes.
and problem posing,
Communicating ideas in order to obtain
problem solving solutions, questioning as a
|Applying past knowledge to
CORE content from educational experiences,
application skills, flexible / constructive
thinking, positive perspectives, are all key
factors when encountering challenging new
CORE content applications
communicating with clarity
|A sense of belonging, partnerships, and all
community member buy-ins, toward an idea
or project is key in achieving clear and precise
|Listening with your eyes,
your ears, and your heart!
|Gathering data through
Building awareness toward all happenings
that effect a given encounter, outcome, or
Being open to sharing one’s unique qualities,
skills, and ideas…risk taking required! Not
afraid of failure! Keep attempting when
wonderment and awe
Being amazed by our accomplishments, and
yet, humbled through the realization that
there are many more challenges ahead, on
the road to obtaining future accomplishments.
recognizing each other
for a job well-done!
Character building, while being aware of
consequences for one’s actions, when
confronting a challenging situation or problem.
Our actions do in deed affect others!
Do not take self too serious! Internally and
externally when appropriate, find the humor
in our failed attempts, and be open to
recognizing our sometimes uncontrolled
human responses when experiencing a
challenging situation. Don’t be afraid to show
the “I’m Human / Your Human” side of self…
It is humbling.
Contribute to a project or situation. Share
your unique perspective toward a technology,
project idea, or life challenge. Food for thought,
if one separates themselves from a life
experience, challenging or not, that life
experience is lost forever…so be confident in
sharing ones unique qualities and/or ideas, and
take life challenges head on, we surprise
ourselves quite often with our true abilities
and performance outcomes.
|Remaining open to
Having a willingness to change, keeping up
with technological advances, and challenging
one to achieve something that no one else has
ever accomplished, in order to better the world,
and have a positive effect on the lives of others.
|Reflection of one’s learning|
Students produce a reflective writing using the 5 E’s and they are: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate. The 5E’s basic outline allows students to identify and understand different aspects of the overall communication process taking place, which are: human to human, human to computer, human to robot, and technologically, communication between the computer and robot.
Five E’s Example: I’m Engaging individuals that are reading this article, as they practice the art of content. Exploration through my Explanations, thus, allowing the reader to Evaluate if this written article makes any sense. Elaboration occurs when the reader is able to take content and apply it to real world, real-life experiences, including the expanding of an idea or concept. The students leave this course better communicators, and are able to enter the real world job market environment, where they meet challenges head-on.
The “Quad D Robotics Curriculum” requires students to be active participants and effective communicators, while developing strategic problem solving skills, instilling student confidence in one’s own abilities, while allowing them opportunities to take ownership for their learning. Facing unpredictable situations & challenges, and become aware of common and not so common human grouping challenges, for example, working with complete strangers, as they would do in a real world workplace environment, is also addressed throughout the curriculum structure.
Students report that they believe that this experience has given them the confidence to meet new people and work effectively with others, and not afraid to face getting their first job. The classroom curriculum is set up like a real work place setting, their grade is their pay…and they really seem to enjoy simulated workplace structure. Students sign contracts, as if they are hired to produce specific robots, which perform specific identified everyday task.
Student produced end-of-unit reflection papers have contained the following comments:
Student A: Student wrote,
“I have learned lots of things about business, the workplace, skills required of me, creative ways for using robots, and my fellow classmates. Not to mention, about my communication abilities and limitations, areas of focus that I need to improve upon, and better prepare myself for the real-workplace environment.”
Student B: Student wrote,
“I’m Human / Your Human,” (slogan of “Quad D Robotics Curriculum”) “This really stuck home with me because I realized that here was someone who had the power to treat us like lesser than him. Someone who had the ability to stomp on us, yell at us, and boss us around without any punishment, and he would still get paid. Yet, he didn’t. “I’m Human / Your Human” is saying that we are the same. We’re both equals, and we all make mistakes. I won’t judge you, if you don’t judge me. And that was something I liked. And that is something I’ll remember for a long, long time.”
Student C: Student wrote,
“Keep Attempting, Keep Attempting, Keep Attempting, (slogan of “Quad D Robotics Curriculum”) have assimilated into my head and it will help me through life after I leave this class. Who knew CTE would affect my perspective of life like this? This project was truly a success.”
Parents consistently comment that, “They wish they too could enroll in this course.”
Past “Quad D Robotics: Innovative Invention Curriculum” students come back and visit my classroom and inform me that the whole overall experience has helped them to better prepare for their future.
It is truly evident that “Quad D Robotics: Innovative Inventions Curriculum,” along with “Habits of the Mind” and “TRIBES”…truly empowers the students to effectively reflect, plan, and apply their instructional experiences to their everyday lives, as they take ownership for their learning experiences.
The sixteen “Habits of the Mind” and the principles of “TRIBES” in conjunction with the “Quad D Robotics: Innovative Inventions Curriculum” (Technological Instruction) has evolved into a powerful and effective strategic curriculum combination in preparing the youth of today, for real world, real job, and real life experiences.
Costa, A. and Kallick, B. (2008) Habits of Mind: 16 Characteristics for Success. Alexandria, VA:
Costa, A. and Kallick, B. (2014) Dispositons: Reframing teaching and Learning. Thousand Oaks: Corwin
Gibbs, J. (1987) Tribes, a Process for Social Development and Cooperative Learning, Cloverdale, CA: CenterSource Systems,
Gibbs, J. (2006) Reaching All by Creating Tribes Learning Communities . Cloverdale, CA: CenterSource Systems,
Walker, R. E.. (2011) Quad D Robotics: Innovative Inventions Curriculum; Website: QuadDRoboticsCurriculum.com rwalker1@QuadDRoboticsCurriculum.com
See all posts by Art Costa.