Pushing the Right Buttons: Encouraging Students to be Future Robotocists with MassRobotics for National Robotics Week

By Alexa Rose, Maker Fellow Americorps Vista at United Way BoSTEM and Edited by Kyle Bray

United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley’s BoSTEM initiative funds an innovative AP Computer Science course that makes rigorous coursework more accessible to underrepresented students in Computer Science.

This year, our AP Computer Science Students, in partnership with Digital Ready had the opportunity to visit MassRobotics and make their own Rasberry Pi-based robot. This blog post is both an ode to how absolutely amazing MassRobotics is and a robot design challenge you can use in your classroom or home! 

MassRobotics Robot students “programmed” using block code in the lab to wave hello! 

A Short Ode to Mass Robotics:

MassRobotics is a non-profit organization that hosts innovative robotic projects from across Boston. They host bi-monthly public tours, personalized class field trips, and a plethora of robotics-based events to inspire future roboticists. During this field trip, students will see the breadth of research the innovators are up to—from designing ventilators to the future of apartment living—and have a hand on experience with some of the robots! 

Students in AP Computer Science learning how to create robots.

All of our AP computer science students started off intimidated by the world of robotics, but left feeling completely enthusiastic about becoming a future roboticist! I could not encourage educators more to reach out to their education team, families to go on one of their open tours, or to attend one of their robotics events to encourage a future STEMinist. 

AP Computer Science Student High Fiving a Robot! 

The Ultimate Robotics Challenge:

After getting pumped up from going to MassRobotics, students were asked to participate in a design challenge. They were given a Raspberry Pi, Sunfounder Sensor Kit, and multiple lessons with experts at MassRobotics to help with all aspects of their robot! They were given the prompt: “innovate an aspect of your daily life”. 

A Student’s robot that automatically opened doors to reduce touch surfaces during the pandemic


Students were required to work in teams and present their finished projects to a panel of robotics experts. The team aspect helped to foster a sense of community and create key social-emotional skills which are critical during the pandemic! Students at the end of the project were so eager to continue coursework, more responsive in class and more than half of them wanted to go into a STEM career after. This sort of hands-on, team-based, maker-centric challenge is exactly the type of educational experiences we strive for at BoSTEM and with your support, we can continue to do so. 

A robot that finds things around the house!


To keep up with all things BoSTEM, such as more takeaway lessons like this, STEM events for your students, volunteer opportunities, and more click this link! Also, consider attending our free STEMcation week April 19-22nd, where we will be doing some free robotics-based yoga! Did you like this blog?  If so, please share it with your friends (robots or not).