University research, funded in part by the National Science Foundation and feedback from K-14 teachers, helped to shape the curriculum that the UCD program teaches to educators. The classes include computer programming and robotics, one that integrates computing with high school math and another that merges robotics and film production.
UCD-shaped courses are now being taught at more than 60 schools across the state, including 37 in the greater Sacramento region. Demand is so high that Cheng is considering a program that would turn teachers into trainers that could start as early as next summer. He also plans to add curriculum for students in geometry and algebra II.
Starting the program wasn’t as simple as developing curriculum to train teachers. UC Davis researchers wanted to build a robot that would be more practical for everyday classrooms than the ones with hundreds of parts that typically have been used in schools.