Associate professor Edd Schneider knows that when you incorporate students’ interests into a creative learning environment, great things happen. 

Edd had this in mind when he advised communication management and design student Garrett Chin ’18 on his senior project proposal to construct an operational (and affordable) BB-8—the beloved Star Wars droid—that educators could replicate in a makerspace environment. 

“I love to talk to students about what they care about and then help them with research and development methodology to get where they want to go"

Before Garrett’s BB-8 could get rolling, Edd helped to assemble a team of students to support the endeavor. The team comprised Lauren Suna ’20 (robotics), Avery Herzog ’18 (graphics), and Bennie Lemus ’18 (budget and production). Under Edd’s guidance, and with help from the Park School Innovation Lab’s state-of-the-art 3D printer, the team created roughly 100 parts, before picking out parts for the complex robotics elements.

The project culminated in a panel discussion, “STEM Education Meets Droid Building,” at a Star Wars Celebration event in Chicago. Edd and the students inspired an audience of more than 75 educational professionals with their development of the BB-8 replica. 

The Walt Disney Company's Star Wars Celebration event invited the team to showcase the replica and discuss their process and the implications for robot building in STEM education. Edd helped to moderate the panel alongside his students, answering questions about how they designed and built the working BB-8 and how to implement similar projects in educational environments.