GRASP Lab Awarded NSF Grant to Provide Research Experience for Middle School Teachers

August 26th, 2015

The GRASP Lab has been awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation to provide a research experience in robotics for middle school teachers in the School District of Philadelphia. 

Beginning in July 2016 and continuing for three consecutive years, 10 math and science teachers will spend six weeks in July and August conducting research alongside Penn graduate students and faculty and developing curriculum modules for their classrooms. During the academic year, teachers will work with graduate students to implement content in their classrooms. Teachers in the program will receive support for classroom materials related to the developed curriculum and to establish FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams at their schools. The GRASP Lab is partnered with the school district, the Mayor’s Office of Education, the Navy, and Comcast in this Research Experience for Teachers (RET) site. 

GRASP currently works with teachers in the school district through programs like FLL. The GRASP Lab supports 27 middle school FLL robotics teams in Philadelphia public schools, providing registration costs, coach training, funding for a competition at Central High School, and logistical support. GRASP will also host the Southeast Pennsylvania FLL Championship at Penn on Feb. 6.

The RET site will focus on developing teachers into STEM leaders. According to the Center for Public Education, teachers who have better access to resources, more experience, and more professional development are able to create profound opportunities for their students and raise achievement. GRASP seeks to develop these STEM leaders in our schools who will create and support more engineering and computer science opportunities for their students, and serve as resources in their schools and communities of practice for years to come.

The RET site will also seek to develop curricular content for middle school classrooms. This content will be made available through the GRASP website and

The GRASP Lab will be reaching out to district schools to collaborate with this year. GRASP is also seeking industry mentors to work alongside teachers in the summer program. If you are interested or would like more information about the grant, please contact Dan Ueda.

This grant was developed by Dr. Dan Koditschek, Dr. Chris Massey, and Dan Ueda.