Education and Outreach

Computer science for middle schoolers


Rus et al. designed computer science curriculum designed to teach middle school students about computer science fundamentals.  The curriculum is based on the NXT programming lanugage and teaches students about finite state machines. 

Finite State Machine Video Lesson

Finite State Machine Teacher Manual


Kumar’s students mentored FIRST LEGO League (FLL) middle school robotics teams and served as volunteers and judges at the FLL Southeastern Pennsylvania Championship at the University of Pennsylvania.

GRASP National Robotics Week Open House

Kumar’s students participated in the 2013 GRASP National Robotics Week Open House. Over 260 K-12 students visited the Multi Robot Systems Lab and learned about micro UAVs and how to print quadrotors using the MakerBot

Harvard & the Pioneer charter school of science outreach

Students and staff at the Harvard Microrobotics Lab applied the lessons they learned from building printable robots to creating an educational program for high school students. Four juniors and seniors from the Pioneer Charter School of Science attended a two-week program run by a team of Harvard researchers in which they learned principles of design, culminating in the construction of a robot from cardboard. The devices and robots built in this program were constructed using the same techniques developed and honed for the lab's work in building origami-inspired robots.

Laboratory Tours
Kumar’s students presented their reserach to middle school and high school students that visited the GRASP lab for tours and robotics demonstrations. From August 2012 to August 2013 Kumar’s students gave over 30 presentations.
Mechanical Invention through Computation class

In Spring 2013, Demaine and Rus cotaught a hands-on undergraduate class at MIT called 6.S080: Mechanical Invention through Computation, together with visiting artist Chuck Hoberman.

Research Experiences for Teachers (RET)

Kumar received a NSF supplement under the Expeditions in Computing program to support a local high school technology teacher and robotics coach for a summer research experience. The teacher participated in research involving the transformation of a MakerBot into a circuit board printing device. 


The Demaine group at MIT build "self-folding" curved-crease sculpture to illustrate the powerful mathematics of computational origami design, and how material properties can be harnessed to produce desired foldings semi-automatically, all through the accessible medium of tangible art.  Their sculpture has been exhibited at over 20 art galleries and museums in 2013, including two highschool galleries.  In addition, the Demaines have given numerous talks about connections between art and mathematics, with specific examples related to folding and robotics.

UP: The Umbrella Project

In collaboration with Pilobolus, the world famous modern dance troupe, the Distributed Robotics Lab created UP, a large-scale live performance piece that arms untrained participants from all walks of life with umbrellas fabricated with multi-colored LED lights.  Each participant spontaneously interacts with the group and, by manipulating the color of his or her own umbrella, creates an ever changing landscape of hues as they move through space to bring art to life.  UP premiered at the PopTech Conference in Camden, Maine in October 2012 and was performed again at MIT in May 2013.