STOMP@USC is an educational outreach program designed to motivate learning in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) by providing a hands-on robotics experience using LEGO MindStorm kits.
STOMP stands for the Student Teacher Outreach Mentorship Program. The STOMP model is designed to create partnerships between STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) "experts" and K-12 classrooms to assist K-12 teachers in developing and implementing interactive STEM lessons. Through this model, "experts" in the form of university students, high school students, and industry employees collaborate with K-12 educators to develop curriculum and resources aiding the long-term sustainability of STEM education. K-12 teaches benefit from the partnership by gaining knowledge of STEM concepts, subsequently becoming more comfortable with engineering and implementing engineering-based activities in their classrooms. STOMP participants, or fellows, also benefit in that they are awarded an opportunity to work with their local community gaining communication, teaching, and leadership skills. STOMP was originally created at Tufts University and has been extended to many other universities and institutions across the world.
The STOMP chapter at the University of Southern California (STOMP@USC) is an educational outreach effort spearheaded by Dr. Ryan N. Smith and operated out of the Robotics Embedded Systems Laboratoryin the Viterbi School of Engineering. Ryan recently came to USC from the University of Hawai‘i where he helped to develop a very successful STOMP chapter, STOMP@HI Aquabotica, totally focused on underwater robotics education. Here in southern California, Ryan intends to incorporate aspects of STOMP@HI with traditional STOMP robotics education to create a hybrid STOMP chapter which can cater to an educators wants and/or needs in the classroom. STOMP@USC aims to provide children with a hands-on, learning experience with an opportunity to delve into the world of autonomous underwater and terrestrial robotics. This outreach program focuses on developing children's creativity in problem solving as well as providing an engineering and programming background. The program makes use of LEGO's educational Mindstorm kits with its corresponding ROBOLAB software, creating a flexible means of building robots in a relatively quick and free manner.
The STOMP@USC program is designed around 5 classroom visits, each 90-120 minutes long. The students are introduced to concepts and terminology that is usually not encountered at their grade level but is entirely within their ability to understand. Also, the students will gain insight as to what research is happening on the USC campus. The topics that are covered during the five days are related to what goes into engineering an autonomous robot. Each topic will is presented along with an activity or demonstration to help the students understand the presented concept. With the guidance of the mentor, the students will have hands-on time to build and design their own robot with the Lego MindStorm kits. This is intended to foster the students creativity.
The teachers also benefit from fresh lesson plans that are related to research that is happening on the local level, tying their science education to our home town environment in southern California. After the sessions are over, the program leaves students with a renewed interest in science and leaves the teacher with new teaching resources.