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Teaching STEAM with “DoodleBots”

School of Education Professors Susan Goetz Zwirn and Evangeline Christodoulou led 30 teachers from across the globe in a workshop to create drawing robots at the four-day National Art Education Association annual convention in Boston last month.

These simple robots, referred to as “DoodleBots,” were an example of S.T.E.A.M. curricula, an educational approach that integrates science, technology, engineering, art and math. 

“Educators had the opportunity to explore new practices in design education,” said Zwirn. “In this project we conceptualized the drawing robot as another art-making tool that can be controlled and developed further to create individualized art.”

Using recycled objects and an array of art materials, as well as motors and batteries, the educators built individual robots that propelled across mural paper, drawing in unique ways.

In addition to creating the DoodleBots, Zwirn and Christodoulou provided an overview of kinetic art that placed the innovative lesson in historical context. Attendees were able to combine technology, sculpture, and drawing, while learning about electric currents and motors.  

“S.T.E.A.M. may be a new acronym, but it is a curricula formulation with deep roots in the Renaissance,” said Zwirn. “The combination of art with other STEM subjects enhances students’ understanding of the topics, as well as their creativity.”

Although this was their first national workshop on DoodleBots, Zwirn and Christodoulou have been creating these apparatuses in their art education classes at Hofstra for the past four years. The workshop concluded with assessment approaches and strategies that could alter lines, shapes, and trajectories as teachers have done with traditional artmaking tools.

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