Tweets by ThymioII NCCR Robotics promotes robotics in schools and amongst teachers; we work with teachers in Switzerland to prepare them to be able to confidently and effectively educate… Read more
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Robots are both fascinating objects for the general public and devices whose conception, understanding and pro- gramming involve many fields. This unique combination makes them an ideal tool for introducing science and technology to children. This paper presents the outcome of a programming workshop held on the occasion of the 2011 EPFL Robotics Festival. This workshop introduced programming using the robot “Thymio II”. The participants enjoyed this workshop very much, and their attitudes suggest that the public is attracted to such events out of interest rather than pure fun or educational concerns. Children appreciated the supervision, characterized by a high staff-per-child ratio of 1/3. We also show that in an hour of tutorial, children were able to acquire concepts such as the sensor or the loading of a program on the robot because they practised these enough. More theoretical and less practised concepts, such as the sensory-motor loop or the programming details, were not well understood. These findings now enable us to create better edutainment material.
Technology is playing an increasing role in our society. Therefore it becomes important to educate the general public, and young generations in particular, about the most common technologies. In this context, robots are excellent education tools, for many reasons: (i) robots are fascinating and attract the attention of all population classes, (ii) because they move and react to their environment, robots are perceived as close to living beings, which make people attracted and attached to them, (iii) robots are multidisciplinary systems and can illustrate technological principles in electronics, mechanics, computer and communication sciences, and (iv) robots have many applications ﬁelds: medical, industrial, agricultural, safety … While several robots exist on the market and are used for education, entertainment or both, none ﬁts with the dream educational tool: promoting creativity and learning, entertaining, cheap and powerful. We addressed this goal by developing the Thymio robot and distributing it during workshops over two years. This paper describes the design principles of the robot, the educational context, and the analysis made with 65 parents after two years of use. We conclude the paper by outlining the speciﬁcations of a new form of educational robot.