Robotics Initiatives: In 2011 and 2012, Gray led one and two day robotics training workshops for middle and high school students. To get this robotics program started, Gray approached the superintendent of Tuscaloosa City Schools. After speaking with Gray, the superintendent wanted to bring robotics to his schools. They sent out invitations to all Tuscaloosa City Schools to participate. Elisabeth Davis, the assistant superintendent of Tuscaloosa City Schools, said that the district’s relationship with the computer science department at the University of Alabama had not always been productive. She said that from the district perspective, there was little understanding of the importance of technology. With a new superintendent, this changed.
In 2012 and 2013, Gray and his team visited nine elementary, middle and high schools to teach robotics. In robotics trainings for teachers, which are usually for teachers with no previous experience with robotics, teachers learn through both instruction and hands on experiences with the robots. Elisabeth Davis said, “[The teachers] said that [the robotics training] was great, the whole day of PD was hands on, they enjoyed it, that they learned a lot, and they had no idea that this was a lot of what CS was.” Gray and his PhD student Amber Wagner also shared robotics lesson plans with teachers.