How do schools arrange a Robotics Curriculum?

Recently an educator asked me how schools teach robotics classes–“year round or just a semester.”

At the root of her question seems to be how schools integrate their robotics teams into their school curriculum. Since I’m with a team that really runs mostly independent of our host school, I don’t know the answer to this.

But I know that as a youth, I was able to piece-together an engineering-preparatory curriculum at my high school, but straight away, I think back to my education and realize that my prep crossed the boundaries of the departments without an organized plan.

I learned drafting, metal, wood and plastic forming skills in the shop “industrial arts” department. I took classes every semester from 7th to 12 grade.

But I learned coding in the math department. Not sure high schools even teach coding now unless you count .html in the web design class.

I learned electricity and electronics, chemistry (materials) and physics, (the root of all engineering) in the science department.

So I’m asking all of you how schools that have robotics and engineering-preparatory programs arrange them and spread them across departments.

And I’m asking if they’re semester or year-round, and if they continue with a plan over many years or do students pick-and-choose what parts of the coursework they want.

I expect many different answers.

It’s kind of like a good recipe. Different cooks different answers. I can only speak for my HS.

Texas has a robotics curriculum that is loosely built on the format of FIRST. Each class is either eighteen or nine weeks (this is tricky because different Texas schools run different schedules. Technically each robotics class is one credit whether a district teaches that in eighteen weeks or nine weeks is up to them).

While we draw from every department robotics as a class exists in Texas. If you are wanting to see what we do here I can PM you a link to some sites.

Really surprised I don’t have thirty responses telling my how wonderful your school’s set up is.


Do you have a ‘robotics department?’
Do you have semester class or a year?
What department is that class in?
Who’s teaching it?
Just one class? what are the classes?
Are the departments tied together somehow for a ‘program?’

I put one together… but it is still a work in progress… We are a rookie team and limited resources… ours was more out of need than design… the students im working with did not have continuity in education so we started with what are tools and worked up… Hope this helps…

We have a dedicated Academy for Robotics. Students from multiple schools come to our school for my classes.I teach Robotics and Electronics. I do use Inteliteks curriculum for my first year students.
And my second year students get a variety at of things that I wrote, including cad,3d printing, and working on team stuff. The Texas Robotics course is geared so that you can have a robotics team out of your class room. But we are not a FIRST School so we focus on our other competitions. As far as Electronics go I have to follow the college curriculum that goes with my courses.
Now as far as our district goes We just started a feeder program that will funnel into my program but they are at a different campus and I give them input on what I want students to learn. They also use a different version of the Intelitek curriculum.
The way I break up my first year is engineering design (learn how to build a robot) first semester and programming second semester.
The second year fluctuates between competition and automation depending on the students. I have a lot of autonomy as long as I hit all of my required TEKS.

This past summer, I worked with several other teachers and stakeholders to develop a set of standards for a robotics-centered course.
While we were not one of the pilot schools for this course, I have integrated parts of these standards in some of my Project Lead the Way engineering classes, specifically 8th grade Technology & Robotics, and 10th grade Principles of Engineering.

The school district we are based from doesn’t have a robotics specific program but more of the classes that it sounds like you took. There’s skills that could be applied from basic classes but that’s about it. Programmers on our team have been trying to propose a programming class for a number of years to our district but there hasn’t been any movement on that.

The closest it gets to a FIRST model is through Project Lead The Way (PTLW). They’ve been expanding what classes are available through that over the years so I don’t know what all is available now. I know the classes have CAD and Vex kits involved but that’s all I’m really familiar with. This year some of our Seniors on the team were in a class where they got the whole year to design something from scratch and go through the design process and present it. However it’s been a slowly progressing system considering the teacher in charge of that has changed three times since I started high school in 2012. For at least one year the PLTW teacher even had to teach at both of the high schools.

My (soon to be former) high school has several courses spread across various curriculum areas that involve robotics.

Our staff adviser teaches some of the computer science courses (AP CS Principles and AP CS A), with the latter especially feeding into robotics (as we now use Java).

In addition, our school has an engineering magnet program that follows PLTW, which provides various engineering courses.

Obviously, math and science courses are important as well, but those two seem to be the biggest pulls into robotics, as they both start pretty early.

You may want to describe what this “preparatory program” is. I’m assuming it is like a loose guide of classes to take that fits with a career? For instance, I didn’t hear about programs like that, or doing any kind of ‘focus’ in high school, until I was out of college.

Just to be clear–and I think you know–I believe you’re asking the same question that I am…so I think you’re not asking me, but I’d love to hear from more people.

My team doesn’t have a ‘program’ in our school, though we’d like to. Our school teaches courses that help to prepare people for STEM in college and in their future careers, but there isn’t anything tying them together or directing students.

Sounds like the best answer so far is schools participating in Project Lead The Way.

My team 1108 has about a dozen classes we teach on Sunday afternoons in the autumn that teach background and skill, but mostly new team members benefit and the older kids have seen them. But we’re not part of the school.

If your school has any robotics classes at all, I’ll like to hear about them. What is taught? Who teaches? etc.

Team 4505 (McDonogh School) has a Computer Science department where every class in it is taught by our lead mentor. Principles of Robotics is classified in the CS department along with classes like APCS.

I know 1678’s high school has 3 levels of robotics classes, with the highest level requiring participation on 1678.

I was saying that people may not understand your question if they aren’t familiar with the concepts of focuses in high school curriculum. And I wasn’t entirely sure if you were asking about focuses, schools giving different certificates for different “class tracks”, or just a document on "good classes to take if you want to be a roboticist.

At our school this year I participated in the pilot year of the robotics course. And after some needlessly enfuriating experiences with the teacher I can officially say:

PLAN THE UNITS BEFORE YOU OFFER THE CLASS! The amount of filler assignments we had to do was insane, and build challenge details were changed frequently (more than once a day in a couple cases). If you want people to take the class seriously, plan it through.

Our school is partnered with Project Lead the Way to offer classes relating to engineering. All freshman take Introduction to Engineering Design which teaches CAD (Autodesk Inventor), the sophomores take Principles of Engineering which goes through the design process and machine control and coding with VEX. Those two are required for all students. Junior and senior year, students have the option of taking a Computer-Integrated Manufacturing class where they learn how to CNC, 3D print, laser cut and more. Seniors can take Engineering Research and Design which actually has two completely different curriculum. The one for non-FRC people is a year-long project of the entire classes choosing. They go through the whole design process and get feedback along the way from Boeing engineers. Last year they made a go-kart. This year it was drones. The FRC class does a project in first semester to help the team (this year it was mobile testbeds, last year it was gearboxes) and in second semester they do whatever FRC task they need to.
There has been talk of opening a Computer Science class, but that isn’t confirmed.