I love to inspire learners of all ages about the creative opportunities in engineering. Since my field is robotics, I am committed to making it accessible to everyone, and sharing ways in which robots can be used to improve human quality of life, especially for users with special needs. In outreach, my emphasis is on PK-12 students, in particular groups that are typically underrepresented in computing and engineering. I believe that the hands-on, experiential learning provided by robotics is a great way to increase students' interest and knowledge in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), especially computational thinking. I enjoy presenting to various stakeholder audiences, including PK-12 students and teachers, as well as members of the media and the entertainment industry.
I welcome helpful suggestions and new impactful outreach opportunities.
- Leading the USC Viterbi School of Engineering K-12 STEM outreach program.
Outreach activities by my Interaction Lab.
- Leading (with Prof. Gigi Ragusa) two consecutive
NSF Research Experience for Teachers (RET) sites that provide
middle school teacher development in engineering faculty
Relevant Engineering Technologies Research: A Research Experience for
Teachers Site" (SRET-RET, 2011-2014) and "Advanced Content in Computational Engineering and Science Standards" (Access4Teachers, 2015-2019).
- Co-lead (with Profs. Krishna Nayak, Andrea Hodge, and Gigi Ragusa) of the NSF-supported "Body Engineering Los Angeles (BE-LA) GK-12", an outreach and development program that matchepairs middle school science teachers and Viterbi School PhD students for in-class STEM curricular development.
- Co-lead (with Prof. Gigi Ragusa) of the Computational Thinking for
High School teachers CSMARTS program, supported by
from Google’s CS4HS program, trained 12 teachers in summer 2013 and in
- Lead of the Robotics and Coding Academy for Middle School
students, supported by the USC Neighborhood Outreach Program and NSF.
The program has USC CS PhD and undergraduate students teaching middle
school teachers and students how to program, using robotics as a
unifying theme, culminating in a regional Botball and Botball Junior
competition, Sep 2015-Aug 2016.
- Curricular materials for a 6th grade hands-on robotics course and an 8th grade robotics-based science class, developed in collaboration with two LA middle school teachers and with the support of an NSF Research Experience for Teachers (RET) supplement award. All materials are found here. We also developed a resource web site for K-12 teachers.
- Curricular materials for an in-class and after-school middle school robotics program, set up at and in partnership with Foshay Learning Center, during July 2005-June 2006; it involved school visits, teacher training, and providing permanent resources (robot kits and lesson plans) for the program, supported by the USC Neighborhood Outreach Grant for "Hands-on Robotics for Enhancing Middle-School STEM Education and Increasing Participation of Under-Represented Students". Look here for more information. Here is a nice article about the program.
- Curricular materials for an after-school elementary school robotics program, set up at and in partnership with St. Agnes Elementary School, during July 2006-June 2007; it involved school visits, teacher training, and providing permanent resources (robot kits and lesson plans) for the after-school program, supported by the USC Neighborhood Outreach Grant for "Hands-on Robotics for Enhancing Elementary-School STEM Education and Increasing Participation of Under-Represented Students". Look here for more information. The all-girls robotics club went on to the state-level competition in their first year of the program!
- Ongoing in-school, fter school, and summer robotics course for elementary, middle, and high school students in South Pasadena, in collaboration with the South Pasadena Educational Foundation (SPEF) and the South Pasadena School District (SPUSD), and working with elementray and middle school science teachers, supported by the NSF Research Experience for Teachers (RET) supplement awards. Started with summer courses in 2008, expanded to add after-school programs in 2011, added in-school classes in Los Alisos, Norwalk in 2011 and in South Pasadena in 2013. Here is a nice South Pasadena Review article about the 1st year of the program.
- Robotics exercises for the 2nd grade and 4-5th grade science modules, developed by teachers at the Monterey Hills School, with support of the NSF Research Experience for Teachers (RET) supplement award, in 2010. The teaching materials are found
- Annual USC Viterbi Robotics
Open House during the National Robotics Week in April of each year. The event is free and open to the public, and provides an opportunity to see real cutting-edge research robots and talk with robotics researchers: undergraduate and PhD students and faculty at USC. The even brings between 900 and 2000 local K-12 students, teachers, and famillies to campus each year.
- Annual robotics assemblies at Monterey Hills Elementary School. Started in 2003 and continues as an annual event (celebrated a decade in 2013!). The assemblies feature interactions with various fun and instructive robots from the Interaction Lab, and involve PhD students as role models to the school children. The assemblies are given to all grades in the school, K-5, usually in April. Here are some photos from the 2012 assemblies.
- A web portal with free information, materials, and links for K-12 robotics activities, drawn from the activities listed above and other K-12 outreach done in my Interaction Lab.
- A free robotics programming workbook with illustrated exercises and solutions. The workbook exercises are designed for the low-cost iRobot Create and Roomba platforms. The workbook provides three different programming environments and a variety of add-on sensor options. The workbook is a stand-alone generally accessible resource for students at all levels (university and K-12), educators (university and K-12) and hobbyists. It is written to dovetail with my "The Robotics Primer" textbook for the same audience, available from MIT Press.
- Maja J. Matarić, Juan Fasola, and David J. Feil-Seifer, "Robotics as a tool for immersive, hands-on freshmen engineering instruction", Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference & Exposition Pittsburgh, PA, Jul 2008. [PDF]
- Maja J Matarić, Nathan Koenig, and David Feil-Seifer, "Materials for Enabling Hands-On Robotics and STEM Education", AAAI Spring Symposium on Robots and Robot Venues: Resources for AI Education, Palo Alto, CA, Mar 2007. [PDF]
- Maja J Matarić, "Robotics Education for All Ages", Proceedings, AAAI Spring Symposium on Accessible, Hands-on AI and Robotics Education, Palo Alto, CA, Mar 22-24, 2004. [PDF]