Montana State University

MSU online course introduces robotics for STEM education

December 17, 2015 -- MSU News Service

MSU engineering professor Brock LaMeres builds a LEGO Mindstorm robot in his office. A new online course from MSU helps teachers and youth leaders use the robots to teach STEM concepts to students. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

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An engineering professor at Montana State University has developed a non-credit online course that introduces robotics as a method for teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. The course is designed for pre- and in-service teachers and is also appropriate for youth leaders, coaches or parents who are supporting FIRST LEGO League (FLL) robotic competition teams.

The introductory course is designed for people who have never built or programmed a robot. Units cover computer systems and programming; robot construction, locomotion and autonomy; sensors; and common robot challenges. The course uses the LEGO Mindstorms robotic platform and supports both the NXT and EV3 versions.

The instructor is Brock LaMeres, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in the MSU College of Engineering who has taught engineering at MSU for the past 10 years and conducts research on how to use technology to teach the concepts of STEM. LaMeres also created the MSU robotics competition team that won the national championship at a NASA mining competition in 2010.

A three-month access pass to the course is $49, which is available through the National Teachers Enhancement Network (NTEN), a program of MSU’s Extended University. The course is self-paced and offers video-based instruction from LaMeres along with self-assessment activities for both the NXT and EV3 versions of the platform. The entire course consists of approximately five hours of instructional videos and is viewable on desktop computers and mobile devices. Optional MSU continuing education units are available for $25.

To register online, visit http://eu.montana.edu/noncredit/ and choose “Introduction to Robotics using the LEGO Mindstorms.” For more information, contact Lisa Brown with MSU Extended University at (406) 994-6683 or lisa.brown@montana.edu.

Contact: Lisa Brown, MSU Extended University, (406) 994-6683, lisa.brown@montana.edu