The WaterBotics curriculum was developed by the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ through two successive National Science Foundation grants. WaterBotics has been implemented with thousands of middle and high school students nationwide. Data from approximately 1,500 youths indicate that 53% have been girls. Almost equal numbers of youth have participated in formal, classroom settings as in out-of-school settings.

The WaterBotics curriculum is designed so that students:

  • Learn, experience and apply the practices of engineering design;
  • Develop increased understanding of core disciplinary ideas in physical science, engineering, and computer science;
  • Gain 21st Century skills, such as problem-solving, teamwork, and innovation/creativity;
  • Develop increased awareness and interest in STEM careers.


In WaterBotics, teams of middle and high school students engage in problem-based learning as they collaborate to design, build, test, and redesign underwater robots made of LEGO®components, motors, propellers, and other materials. The robots are developed through an iterative engineering design process. Student teams complete a series of design challenges or “missions” that increase in complexity and require more sophisticated solutions. Ultimately, students produce a fully functional underwater robot capable of maneuvering in a three foot deep pool. Students also learn computer programming as they design and program custom controllers for their robots using the NXT and LEGO® MINDSTORMS® software.