Teaching Robotics Through Play and Challenge

flippinjapaneseAI and Robotics

Nov 2, 2013 (4 years and 2 months ago)

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Teaching Robotics Through
Play and Challenge

Euan McGookin

Department of Aerospace Eng.

(formerly Dept of Electronics & Electrical Eng.)

University of Glasgow

Outline


Robotics Course Structure


Challenge of Robotics


Play with Robotics


Lecturing Approaches


LEGO Robotics


Feedback & Analysis


Conclusions

Robotics Course Structure

Lectures

Laboratories

Sensors & Actuators









20 Lectures

Exam

(75%)

Competition
(25%)

LEGO Based
Robotics








15 hours

Industrial Robotics









15 Lectures

Lecture Content: Challenge


Highly mathematical

robotics content


sensors, actuators, kinematics, dynamics,
control and systems


Theoretical aspects of design and analysis


Very difficult

subject matter to learn and
teach


Requires
reinforcement
of material to ensure
teaching outcomes are achieved


examples
and questions

Lab Content: Play


Practical implementation

of sensor, actuator
and programming


Introduction of
mobile robotics


Fast prototyping

of mobile robots for a
competition


either robotic gladiatorial games
or olympics


Team based

activities to ensure no individual is
overworked


Fun

approach to learning practical concepts
which provides counter balance for the lectures

Applying the Challenge


Engagement with lecture activities and
reinforcement of subject matter
ensured through
challenge
based
approaches to lectures


These are implemented through three
techniques:


-

Board Work


-

Direct Questioning


-

Mid
-
lecture Breaks

Board

Work


A key part of the robotics course is practical
reinforcement of knowledge through
problem
based session

in the lecture


These examples are undertaken on the board
and involve all of the student cohort


The

initial
part of the problem is carried out by
the
lecturer
, as an example


The rest of the problem is solved by
volunteers
selected from the audience


All

of the cohort are involved by providing
advice for the volunteer

Direct

Questioning


Reinforcing taught subject matter is essential
for achieving the desired pedagogical
outcomes of the lectures


This is achieved through
direct questioning

at
the
beginning
and at
appropriate points

during
the lecture


Selection of student to be questioned is initially
voluntary

and then
random
if no volunteer is
forthcoming


This
very stressful

approach ensures that the
students engage with the learning process

Mid
-
lecture Break


The third technique is
not

a challenge aspect but
provides compensation for the stress of the
other techniques


This involves a
mid
-
lecture break

(of a few
minutes) to
reinitiate

interest in the lecture


The break can take the form of a
discussion

about an unrelated topic e.g. a current film
review


Such a break is
necessary

to make sure that the
students feel
unthreatened

and an
informal
environment

is established within the lecture
theatre.

Initiating Play


The
counterpoint
to the challenging lectures is the
robot construction laboratory sessions


In order to ensure that the students do not spend too
much time constructing their robot designs,
LEGO
Mindstorm

is used


This is a
fast prototyping medium

for the design of
robotic systems that illustrates some of the practical
constraints of robot manufacturing


Also, the use of LEGO introduces an element of
childlike play

into the laboratory session that provides
an enjoyable release from the lectures

LEGO Robot Construction


The Lab sessions involve the
construction of LEGO Mindstorms
based robots for a competition i.e.
robot gladiators or olympics


The teams design, construct and
programme their robots so that they
are fit for purpose


The rules for the competition specify
the restrictions for the design process

LEGO Robots


LEGO designs for
the Gladiatorial
Robot competition

Lab Competition


The final activity for the
laboratory sessions is a
competition where
students give
presentations and then
perform the specific tasks

THE ARENA

2m

1.5m

0.3m

Student Feedback


Student feedback, from questionnaires
and small group discussions, has been
positive
about this dual approach to
teaching robotics


Most students have
participated well

in
both the lecture and lab sessions


Attendance and examination results
have been
very favourable
, indicating
that the student have engaged well with
the learning process

Finding the Balance


This dual approach has to be
handled
carefully

as a balance is needed
between the challenge and play


Too much
challenge

will cause the
students to be
too stressed


Too much
play

will
distract

from the
learning outcome of the course


A light, well
humoured

approach is
needed to ensure success

Conclusions


A success dual approach has been employed in
the teaching of robotics


Challenge

ensures that the students engage
with the learning process in lectures


Play
ensures that the students have an
enjoyable practical element to the course


Feedback indicates that this approach provides
the necessary learning environment


A balance is needed between challenge and
play for the pedagogical outcomes of the
course to be successfully achieved