The hardware, software and human aspects of robots in the context of computer science education

Posted May 11th, 2010 at 2:46 pm.

Natasha Eilbert and Mansi Gupta

Mentor: Professor Douglas S. Blank

Our research will be in cooperation with The Institute for Personal Robots in Education (IPRE). IPRE uses robots as a tool of education to teach computer science. The main focus of IPRE is to interest and motivate students in computer science. In our research, we will focus on the hardware, software and human aspects of robots in the context of computer science education.

In order to achieve the IPRE goal of attracting students to computer science using robots, we will first gain insights about the human perspective of computer science education. We will do this by creating surveys to gauge human opinion of robots in computer science education. We will also observe human interaction with the different types of robots and gather information on human preference for different computing languages. Second, we will expand the existing robot software, called Myro. Myro is a set of functions which allows students to run the Scribbler (the robot used in the recent introductory computer science course this past spring) from their computers using the computing language Python. We will adapt Myro for use with various robots and several computing languages. Finally, based on the information that we have gathered from the human perspective, research articles and the effectiveness of Myro’s adaptation to various robots, we will work on determining the ideal robot for future introductory computer science classes. Main considerations in coming up with a suitable robot will include the robot’s features and appearance.

In sum, our research will gear towards adapting the existing robot software to different languages and different robots. We will also work on coming up with a suitable robot to use in computer science education.

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