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NSU College of Education earns national recognition for robotics academy

(Tahlequah, Oklahoma) -- Northeastern State University College of Education recently received national recognition for a robotics academy that is the only one of its kind in the United States.

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education will include NSU’s Robotics Academy of Critical Engagement, or RACE, in the association’s Innovation Inventory as a part of its Innovations Exchange.

As part of this recognition, the RACE module will be highlighted during AACTE’s new Gallery to Showcase at its annual meeting in Tampa, Florida, March 2-3. NSU faculty will showcase the module to educators from around the United States in an interactive, question-and-answer format. In addition, NSU’s RACE will be featured on AACTE’s Innovations Exchange website for a full year.

Within NSU’s Robotics Academy of Critical Engagement, all teacher candidates are required to complete a robotics module in their emerging technology class. Future teachers use a variety of coding methods to program robots as a team and get a hands-on look at how students learn.

“Students learn in different ways; they have different ways of approaching a task and this models that for them,” Dr. Debbie Landry, dean of the College of Education, said.

Landry leads the program with College of Education faculty members Barbara Fuller, Dr. Allyson Watson, Dr. Vanessa Anton and Dr. Cindi Fries.

While working with the robots, teacher candidates learn communication, collaboration, problem-solving and critical thinking.

The College of Education also takes the program into the community to teach local teachers how to use robotics in the classroom.

“Everything we do here is focused on improving the quality of instruction for our candidates, but we’re also always looking to the impact on the student in the K-12 classroom and this program does that,” Landry said.

The program has also had an international impact. Students from NSU have traveled to Haiti three times and Vienna to share RACE in Haitian public schools and international private schools. The students have mentored students, teachers and parents in robotics.

Landry said NSU sponsored the first all-girl robotics team from Haiti. That team received a special invitation to compete at the world championship in 2016 and earned an invitation to return to the championship in 2017. The country of Haiti now has three participating schools and six individual teams within their schools.

Landry said the RACE module is modeled after a similar program she observed in Taiwan. While on a trip with teacher candidates several years ago, she realized that robotics plays a much larger role in preparing teachers for the classroom in Asian countries.

When she returned to Tahlequah, she started working to incorporate robotics in teacher training at NSU. Through a partnership with the Cherokee Nation, the RACE program began in 2013. In 2014, the program was able to add the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation as a partner.

For more information on RACE, call 918-444-3739 or email

Published: 2/14/2017 2:36:42 PM

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