Build a Better Bug: Addressing NGSS Needs with Bio-inspired Robots

Program Contact

Kaushik Jayaram


We will develop a new “Bio-inspired” robotics toolkit with Colorado Academic Standards (CAS) aligned activities. Kits will allow students to explore principles of biology and engineering by performing hands-on investigations using electromechanical elements that they don’t have access to at school.

Kits will feature:

  1. Origami-based fold-able body and appendage designs inspired from a variety of insects (e.g., segment of a centipede, cockroach legs, ladybug wings, mantis claws);
  2. Python/Arduino compatible open-source electronics to drive the robot and biologically inspired sensors (tactile antenna of a cockroach, visual LEDs & photoreceptors of a firefly) and displays for environment-robot, inter- robot and human-robot interactions;
  3. Designs that are Chromebook-compatible app to program, communicate and play.

A collaboration of engineering faculty, students, and formal and informal science educators will design and create the kits, and a graduate student in education will develop the accompanying CAS-aligned curriculum. Professional development for classroom teachers will support introducing the new practices and materials in their classrooms. The project hinges on partnerships for engaging students, assessing kits and activities, and recruiting teachers including: the CMU/CU Boulder Engineering Partnership Program, the EUREKA! McConnell Science Museum and Grand Valley BOCES (all in Grand Junction), and CU Science Discovery.

In addition to helping teachers address new CAS requirements, the outreach activities using these kits will engage participants in socially purposeful activity as they gain experiences in integrating art, multimodal literacy, engineering design and fabrication, biological conservation, STEM concepts, and mentoring activities that raise awareness of careers in STEM-related fields.

  • K12 Teacher Professional Training Workshop

    Additional Info

    Professional development for classroom teachers will support introducing the new practices and materials in their classrooms. Additional details TBD.


    in colorado

    Grand Junction



    Public or Private

    Private Program (by request only or for a specific audience or group)

    Program Fee

    No charge to attend/participate in activity or program

Sponsoring Units

  • Research Institutes

  • BioFrontiers Institute
  • College of Arts & Sciences

  • Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
  • College of Engineering & Applied Science

  • Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Design Center (DC) Colorado
  • Division of Continuing Education

  • Science Discovery

Program Partners

  • CU Mechanical Engineering Program
  • CU Science Discovery
  • CMU/CU Boulder Engineering Partnership Program
  • EUREKA! McConnell Science Museum
  • Grand Valley BOCES (all in Grand Junction)

Audiences Served

  • Children & Youth (outside school)
  • International
  • LGBTQ+
  • People Of Color
  • People Who Identify As Women, Girls, and/or Females
  • Students - High School
  • Students - Middle School
  • Teachers - Middle School
  • Teachers - High School