Kevin Reins, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics education in the USD School of Education’s Division of Curriculum & Instruction, and two graduate students, John Williams and Branden Hoefort, created a pilot program with 60 educators at 20 South Dakota school districts. Each educator team received Sphero Edu equipment, including a Sphero BOLT power pack, Sphero code mat and Sphero’s Computer Science Foundations Course 1-3 manuals. They also received one year of free virtual professional development from Sphero.

Sphero Edu uses Sphero BOLT, an app-enabled robotic ball, and advanced curriculum to provide a toolset that incorporates robotics and technology with collaborative STEAM activities to nurture students’ imaginations and enhance their education.

During the summer of 2021, Reins and his graduate students presented a three-day session on embodiment theory to inspire the teachers to consider embodied design principles when they created STEAM lessons for the BOLTs. The enhanced training focused on teachers’ instruction and how to use the BOLTs to deepen students’ understanding of mathematical and science content.

“Many teachers and education designers have been inspired by embodiment theory for envisioning materials, activities and facilitation techniques that leverage how students move objects to learn content,” Reins said.

The partnership was funded by the 2021 Enhancing Educators’ Access to a Well-Rounded Education grant. The partnership was funded by the 2021 Enhancing Educators’ Access to a Well-Rounded Education grant. The original grant proposal, totaling $177,371, was funded by the South Dakota State Department of Education.

Renewable at higher levels for the next six years, the grant allows for the expansion of successful practices and additional collaboration between post-secondary and K-12 math educators in the state.

“There was a very positive response to this past summer’s opportunity, and the partnership is already looking toward next summer as the grant has potential for continued funding,” Reins said.

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