Educational robotics

Educational robotics (RE) is a broad term that refers to a collection of activities, instructional programs, physical platforms, educational resources and pedagogical philosophy. There are many schools which are using the robot teacher.

RE is a learning medium in which people who are motivated by the design and construction of their own creations participate. These creations are given first mentally and then in physical form and are built with different types of materials and controlled by a computer system.

The primary of objective of educational robotics is to provide a set of experience to facilitate the student’s development of knowledge, skills and attitudes for the design, analysis, application and operation of robots. The term robot here is used quite broadly and may include articulated robots, mobile robots or autonomous vehicles of any scale. The rigor of the approach can be scaled based on the background of the target audience and may be suitable for students across the entire educational spectrum—from elementary school or graduate programs.

An alternate, or secondary, objective is to use robotics as a tangible and exciting application to motivate and facilitate the instruction other, often foundational, topics such as computer programming, artificial intelligence or engineering design.

The purpose of pedagogical robotics is to exploit the desire of students to interact with a robot to favor cognitive processes. Martial Vivet proposes the following definition of pedagogical robotics:

It is the activity of conception, creation and putting into operation, for pedagogical purposes, of technological objects that are very faithful and significant reproductions of the robotic processes and tools that are used daily, especially in the industrial environment.

The differences between educational robotics and educational robotics are:

Educational robotics: it uses kits and commercial materials, which in most cases are expensive, make extensive use of sensors and motors, focus on cybernetics, considered also integrative, and allow to go from the concrete to the abstract.

The pedagogical robotics: employs low cost materials, including recycled ones, and integrates different areas of knowledge with emphasis on mathematics, natural sciences and technology. You learn about computers even without a computer and, like educational robotics, you go from the concrete to the abstract.

In addition, robotics as an educational resource allows natural knowledge of Science and Technology in general to be developed. In particular if the STEM methodology is used (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Teaching methodology
A course in educational robotics begins with the teacher’s approach to a challenge for students to solve using teaching materials such as mechanical parts, electronic components and fasteners, which supported by computer tools, allow the generation of prototypes programmable to meet with tasks that solve the problem posed in the challenge, the process of conception, design, assembly and start-up of the prototype enriches the learning process of the student.

In these courses students are presented with challenges in which physical, mathematical and technological concepts are included. In this way students work concepts that have studied in various subjects of the official school curriculum in a practical way. This motivates the students in the learning of these subjects, since they can experience the practical applications of what they have studied theoretically.

And throughout the course process the level of difficulty of the challenges must be raised. The latter will allow the balance between the difficulty of the challenge and the child’s ability to resolve it to be maintained. This prevents the child from being frustrated by not being able to solve the challenges or getting bored by being too simple for their ability.

There are new educational trends in which students combine physical materials with software that simplifies and leads to results that give students an understanding of what happened there. In this way, students are able to understand and extrapolate the knowledge acquired through this methodology and are able to apply them in other subjects.

Through the integration of different areas of knowledge, it is possible to obtain considerable results. Robotics is an example of the integration of different areas of knowledge; Through this discipline, mechanical, electrical, electronic, computer and communications systems are integrated.

The following are the main areas of work of the pedagogical robotics:

Support in primary and secondary education;
Adults in professional training;
Robotics applied to disabled people;
Robotics as a laboratory tool;
The pedagogical robotics to facilitate the development of cognitive processes and representation;
Analysis and reflections on Educational Robotics and its applications.

Educational robotics focuses mainly on the creation of a robot with the sole purpose of developing in a much more practical and didactic the motor and cognitive abilities of those who use them. In this way it is intended to stimulate interest in hard sciences and motivate healthy activity. Also make the child achieve a group organization, discussions that allow developing social skills, respect each one’s turn to expose and learn to work as a team.

Educational robotics has its origins around the 60s, when a group of researchers from the Media Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology proposed the construction of technological devices that would allow children to interact and program them to perform certain actions. It is here when the research group established the agreement with the LEGO company to develop what was known as LEGO / Logo, consisting of the integration of lego building pieces with programming elements that could be executed from a computer. Later, around the 80s, the LEGO company had already spread these equipment or toys around the world for educational purposes.

he idea that a robot is built using cables and equipment to do it in real life, but this is not the case, because in the Educational Robotics it is initially intended to create a robot through a computer. This is done thanks to the help of special programs such as xLogo (using a free version of this), where a small study is made to see if this robot is workable or not in reality. Here, by having it on the computer, the function that this robot will fulfill is established, which are specific to perform small tasks (such as bringing objects or cleaning things, for example) and you can see on the screen what this robot looks like. Subsequently, eliminating and arranging, we proceed to use materials to carry it out in reality.

At this point, various materials are used, from construction system parts such as Lego, Múltiplo or Robo-Ed, to waste materials that are not used at home (such as cardboard boxes and disused circuits). Although, more class materials such as metals or other derivatives are also used.

The phases that are divided Educational Robotics:

Analysis of the problem, in which the environment is investigated and explored to propose the problem to be solved.
Design, in which possible solutions to the problem are designed using the robotics kit.
Construction, in which the model is built with the parts and materials necessary to give it movement. For this the robotics kit is used.
Programming, in which the movements and behaviors of the prototype are programmed through the software.
Test, in which the model is built using the robotics kit with the necessary parts to give it movement.
Documentation, in which evidences are collected that prove the functionality of the design.
Presentation, in which the created prototype is exposed as an alternative solution to the problem that was evident in the environment.

And before starting to develop the phases, it must be taken into account that a challenging situation must be posed to the students; that the classroom should be organized in teams according to the development of competences and capacities; and that a sheet should be provided in which each group can make an inventory of the materials.

Some objectives of the robotics education are:

Make the students more orderly.
Promote experiments, where mistakes are part of learning and self-discovery.
Be more responsible with your things.
Develop greater mobility in your hands.
Develop your knowledge
Develop group skills, allowing the socialization of people.
Develop your creative abilities.
Being able to observe every detail.
Know the operation of the programming language.
Develop learning in a fun way.
Adapt students in current production processes, in which automation plays a very important role.

Specifically in early childhood education objectives are as follows:

Develop important skills and abilities for your future.
Solve challenges raised through the game.
Promote creativity and innovation.
Establish relationships between objects in space.
Progressively build spatio-temporal relationships.

And the goals of Educational Robotics with disabled students are:

Be educations and / or therapeutic.
Help obtain a paid activity.
Be auxiliary in the realization of activities of daily life.

Materials used in educational robotics
In educational and leisure robotics environments are often used devices called control interfaces, or more colloquially controllers, 18 whose mission is to bring together in a single element all the conversion and conditioning systems needed by a PC personal computer to act as brain of an automatic control system or a robot. The control interfaces could thus be defined as multifunction I / O boards (input / output), which are connected to the computer through one of the communication ports of the same and serve as an interface between it and the sensors and actuators of a control system.

The interfaces provide, in general, one or more of the following functions:

Analog inputs, which convert analog levels of voltage or current into digital information processable by the computer. Different analog sensors can be connected to this type of inputs, such as an LDR (light-dependent resistance).

Analog outputs, which convert digital information into analog current or voltage so that the computer can control “real world” events. Its main mission is to operate different control equipment: valves, motors, servomechanisms, etc.

Digital inputs and outputs, used in applications where the control system only needs to discriminate the state of a digital quantity (for example, a contact sensor ) and decide whether or not to act on an element in a certain process, for example, activation / deactivation of a solenoid valve.

Counting and timing, some cards include this type of circuits that are useful in the counting of events, the measurement of frequency and amplitude of pulses, the generation of signals and pulses of square wave, and for the capture of signals at the precise moment.

Some of the most advanced control interfaces also have the precise electronics for the conditioning and conversion of the signals, with their own microprocessor and memory. Thus, they are even capable of storing small control programs transmitted from a computer that they can then execute even if they are no longer connected to it.

Some also feature programming libraries I / S to allow use with different general purpose languages, including: LOGO, JAVA, BASIC and C. Another programming language commonly used in educational robotics is Scratch, which is a free software project aimed at the development of simple applications and serves as a link to acquire other types of skills and abilities that students need in their development through their respective curricular itineraries. Scratch is a visual programming language that allows creating animations in a simple way and that can serve as a springboard to the most advanced world of programming.

There are also educational robotics kits like Acer CloudProfessor, Neulog Sense, Panda Painter Kit from Flexbot, Next, Makeblock, LEGO WeDo, bq Zum Kit, littleBits, LEGO Mindstorms EV3, Beebot, OzobotBit or Aisoy1.

Main materials worked according to the age of the users.
Depending on the age of the user to whom the educational robotics is directed, there are different kinds of materials. According to age:

School stage: in educational stage educational robotics is usually worked through robot manufacturing kits that have all the necessary parts to be able to manufacture it. They have modular components and other electronic and movement components of the kit such as motors, sensors, etc. The programming is done from closed programs with blocks. Some of the most relevant brands in this stage are LEGO, Fisher Technik or BQ.

Adult stage: in this stage, educational robotics is based on work through prototyping with free hardware plates (Arduino and Raspberry) and other generic components, both electronic and movement. The products are usually not specific brand, except the aforementioned free hardware plates such as Arduino and Raspberry.

Source from Wikipedia