During the first two phases of NCCR Robotics two products were developed: the Thymio robot— a mobile robot increasingly used to teach robotics and programming, and Cellulo — a small, inexpensive and robust robot that kids can move with their hands and use in groups. Successful multiple experiments with these products lead to Educational Robots becoming a new Grand Challenge in the NCCR’s phase 3, which is structured along two projects:
A) The Exploration project:
The goal of this project will be to invent new forms of interactions between learners and tangible swarms based on the Cellulo robot, and to study the learning outcomes enabled by these interactions.
It will deal with questions such as:
- What types of swarm behaviour can help students to cope with unnecessary cognitive load?
- What is the potential of Cellulo’s haptic feedback with respect to learning processes?
- Which forms of useful interactions could be invented with a tangible swarm platform?
B) The Exploitation project:
This research will investigate teacher adoption of robotics from two viewpoints, the platform usability and teacher training. Research will show how to train teachers and exploit Thymio and Cellulo in their daily activities and how to minimise their orchestration load. Activities relating to computational thinking skills will be the main target, with school topics outside the STEM domains also included.
It will address three main questions:
- How do we train teachers to teach robotics in K12?
- Which tools can be designed to help teachers to orchestrate robot-populated classrooms?
- How to integrate robotics in the curricula as part of computational thinking training?