Educational Robotics for Sustainability and Life Skills

Author: Christina Todorova , Ivaylo Gueorguiev , Pavel Varbanov , George Sharkov
Summary of the Activity Plan

The goal of this workshop is to introduce and exercise a multidisciplinary approach towards building general awareness on a variety of aspects of everyday life. Such aspects might be ecological thinking, applications of robotics, mathematical argumentation and coordinate system knowledge. Participants play a set of games with the robotics arm. Every game introduces a problem, be it a mathematical problem, requiring the students to program the robot in order to place an item on a specific place of a coordinate system or be it a real-life problem engaging students in a game of sorting and recycling reusable materials. Through robot-enabled games, children cooperatively program robots to solve everyday life problems and improve on digital fluency skills and proportional thinking. Robotics is intriguing and fun, which is why we believe it makes a wonderful tool, in addition to the general school curriculum, for learning career and life skills.

Type of Activity: Workshop Curriculum Aligned: Not aligned
Subject:
  • Maths
  • Technology
Curriculum and Country:
Language: English
Domains
Science: 0
Business: 0
Technology: 3
Engineering: 0
Mathematics: 4
Arts: 0
Societal Issues: 0
Life Skills: 0
OBJECTIVES AND SKILLS

Subject Related:

- 2-dimensional coordinate systems;

- 3-dimensional coordinate systems

- whole numbers

- fractions

- proportions between time, distance and movement

- basic Scratch programming

- understanding of what a robot is and know some common robotic parts;

Skills Learning Outcomes:

  • Students understand that robots are programmable; Students apply sequences of actions to program their robot; Students discuss, learn and use the robotics key elements while generating ideas about the creative real-life problem solving;
  • Skills to be fostered:

    • Collaboration
    • Creativity
    • Teamwork
    • Problem Solving
    ARTIFACTS

    Digital artifacts: Desktop version of Scratch visual programming software. A digital artifact of learning will be Scratch project files from teams. Students work only with the desktop version of Scratch in order to avoid connectivity issues.

    Robotic artifacts: The RobotArm kit by CBiS Education through the visual programming software Scratch. Children program a pre-constructed robot with USB cable and do not build one themselves.

    WHO? WHERE? HOW LONG?

    Gender: both

    Age Group: 9 - 12 Years

    Class Size: large

    (Ideal) Group Size: 4

    (Ideal) Grouping Suggestions: gender,ability,specialties

    Special needs and abilities:

    Other:

    Children with physical disabilities or mental disorders might need additional help from specialized personnel according to their special education needs and obstructions, if any.

    Environment: lab,hall,classroom,indoor

    Style of room: A spacious hall, with one computer and empty table per team, enough chairs, projector or smart TV screen, whiteboard and enough power plugs.

    Sessions: 2

    Session Duration: 2h00

    Total Duration: 4h00

    INTERACTIONS

    Actions:

    • Exchange ideas
    • Dialogue
    • Negotiation
    • Debate

    Relationships:

    • Collaborative
    • Competitive

    Roles in the group:

    • Emergent roles
    • Role exchange in the group

    Support by the tutor(s):

    • Intervene
    • Monitor
    • Facilitate
    TECHNOLOGY
    Technology Used:
    • Dash & Dot
    • Robotic Dreams
    • MOSS
    • LEGO Mindstorms

    Price per Kit: €101 - €150

    Technology Needed: Computers

    LEARNING AND TEACHING

    Teaching Methods:

    No Teaching Methods
    HOW TO
    INTRODUCTION & PRE-WORKSHOP EVALUATION
    Description: The tutors introduce themselves, explain what they do and why they came to the school. They also explain what is the purpose of this activity and what are the games that students will engage with through the robot. Next, they ask the students if they have had any robotics and/or programming experience, what is their attitude on mathematics and robotics in order to break the ice and put children in the mood for sharing and thinking about robotics. Children are also asked how robots could be applied to solve real-life problems, whether they think of robotics and mathematics as sciences that are abstract and distant from other domains, in order to explore their attitudes on the applicability of robotics. The purpose is to become familiar with the audience and vice versa and to explore their existing attitudes. The researchers introduce themselves as robot enthusiasts and math-lovers and explain that in this workshop they will play and work together with the student teams in order to solve several mathematical games using the robotic arm and play a recycling game with the robots. Tutors introduce themselves as researchers and explain to students why their feedback is important to them and why their feedback is what shapes the future of robotics in education and why we believe robotics has a place in the education process. Following this, children fill out the Pre-Workshop Questionnaire and the Draw a Male or a Female Scientist at Work evaluation activities. Children are briefly familiarized with the evaluation activities and how to go about them, how to fill them in, how their personal information will be anonymized and who will read what they wrote. After the evaluation, the tutors introduce the students to the robotic arm, saying a few words about how it works, its parts and its degrees of freedom, as well as how we will program it. Students are handed out the Anatomy of the Arm handouts and are encouraged to explore the Scratch blocks that control every part of the arm to test out if everything works properly. Meanwhile the tutors go around the groups to ensure all arms work properly and work closely with the groups with limited to no experience with Scratch programming, if such, answer the students’ questions and troubleshoot technical issues. While talking to every groups, tutors emphasize on the following: 1. In order to complete the games, they will need to collaborate with their teammates and with students from other groups possibly. 2. Switching roles is of utmost experience to the success of the group and that everyone has to gain experience. 3. We are here to have fun, work together and learn new things – it is okay to not know something and it is okay to ask other students for their expertise and advice. We all work together. In case of an argument or a noticeable group dysfunction, children are encouraged by tutors to find a way to work past possible differences and disagreement within a team, by supporting them on occasions with advice to: a) ask questions that promote understanding (i.e. if a group member makes a suggestion then they others are expected to ask why this suggestion is appropriate for what the group attempts to do); b) ask questions that challenge suggestions (why is this a good idea?); c) be open to trying new ideas; d) respect the other's opinions and do not offense the team members if an idea is not appropriate; e) the group takes responsibility for all the choices made and responsibility is not an issue of the individual (the one who made a wrong suggestion); f) trying to identify what each member is good at and use his/her abilities to support group work; g) try to engage all group members in the task. Workshop objectives supported: Students gain basic understanding of the robotic arm and how it functions; They understand that robots are programmable and gain knowledge on how a command might affect this particular robot’s behavior; They know that commands could be programmed to last for a certain duration, i.e. 1 second; Students are aware that different robots are made to serve different purposes; Foster communication and collaboration skills; Practicing communication skills in terms of formulating and expressing ideas; Decision-making within a team; Expected student constructions: First pieces of code, robot movement. Expected forms of student dialogue: Collaboration; Negotiation; Communication; Teaching method: Evaluation activities – Instruction; Introduction activities – Discussion, experimentation, demonstration by example;
    Duration: 75 minutes
    Type: Introductory , Evaluation , Exploration , Experimentation
    Orchestration: Individual work , Group work
    Teaching Methods:
    Subject Related: 2-dimensional coordinate systems; , 3-dimensional coordinate systems , whole numbers , fractions , proportions between time, distance and movement , basic Scratch programming , understanding of what a robot is and know some common robotic parts;
    Skills Learning Outcomes: Students understand that robots are programmable; Students apply sequences of actions to program their robot; Students discuss, learn and use the robotics key elements while generating ideas about the creative real-life problem solving;
    MATHEMATICAL GAMES IN TWO DIMENSIONS
    Description: Students are explained the basics of coordinate systems so that they are able to determine the position of the points or other geometric elements on a Euclidian plane. After students know how to determine coordinates and know how to read them, they are given a handout where a set of coordinates are written. Their task is to move a felt ball from one coordinate to another. At the very beginning of the game, students are encouraged to take notes of their action, so as to be able to perform the second set of tasks of this game – to program the robot to pick up the ball from one coordinate and place it on another on a press of a given button. Of course, as this arm is not equipped with any sensors that could support this task, students have to remember the initial position of the arm, so that the program would perform the programmed sequence of actions, so that a similar outcome is achieved. The coordinates are taken to be real numbers. The focus of this game is placed not so much on precision, but on learning how the arm functions, learning how to determine coordinate and think proportionally. Moreover it is important that students cooperate and share knowledge. Students are expected to rotate and take turns taking notes, programming, reading coordinates, giving feedback and suggest movement. Workshop objectives supported: Students program the RobotArm kit by CBiS Education through the visual programming software Scratch. Students learn about coordinate systems in the 2-dimentional space; Students are showcased the difference between whole numbers and fractions without going into theory; Students understand that robots are programmable; Exercise very basic Scratch programming skills; Students gain understanding of what a robot is and know some common robotic parts; Students apply sequences of actions to program their robot; Develop creative thinking skills to find different applications of robotics and programming in other fields This game develops problem-solving skills, exercises effective communication and collaboration skills, encourages flexibility and adaptability. Students are formulating and expressing ideas. They are encouraged to experiment and test out ideas; This game requires the decision-making process within a team, while stimulating proportional thinking and proportional reasoning by thinking in proportion to solve the mathematical tasks while visualizing the solution both on the screen by programing, as well as on a physical level with the robot. Students also exercise logical thinking as solutions to this game are interconnected. Expected student constructions: Pieces of code, robot movement Expected forms of student dialogue: Collaboration
    Duration: 30 minutes
    Type: Exploration , Experimentation
    Orchestration: Group work
    Teaching Methods:
    Subject Related: 2-dimensional coordinate systems; , 3-dimensional coordinate systems , whole numbers , fractions , proportions between time, distance and movement , basic Scratch programming , understanding of what a robot is and know some common robotic parts;
    Skills Learning Outcomes: Students understand that robots are programmable; Students apply sequences of actions to program their robot; Students discuss, learn and use the robotics key elements while generating ideas about the creative real-life problem solving;
    MATHEMATICAL GAMES IN THREE DIMENSIONS
    Description: The aim of this third game is to teach students, without going into theory, that every point in three-dimensional Euclidean space is determined by three coordinates. For the representation of the third dimension, we are using coffee capsules, due to their shape and indent at the bottom, which allows for multiple capsules to be built one on the other and for a ball to be placed on top without falling off. After students know how to determine coordinates in a three-dimensional coordinate system and know how to read them, they are given a handout where a set of coordinates are written. Their task is to move a felt ball from one coordinate to another, by building beforehand a “tower” of a given number of capsules (number of capsules = z) or moving a “tower” of capsules from one coordinate to another, adding capsules if needed. Students can construct the “tower” manually or using the robot arm. The focus of this game is placed not so much on precision, but on learning how the arm functions, learning how to determine coordinate and think proportionally. Moreover, it is important that students cooperate and share knowledge. Students are expected to rotate and take turns taking notes, programming, reading coordinates, giving feedback and suggest movement. The coordinates are taken to be real numbers. Workshop objectives supported: Students program the RobotArm kit by CBiS Education through the visual programming software Scratch. Students learn about coordinate systems in the 3-dimensional space; Students are showcased the difference between whole numbers and fractions without going into theory; Students understand that robots are programmable; Exercise very basic Scratch programming skills; Students gain understanding of what a robot is and know some common robotic parts; Students apply sequences of actions to program their robot; Develop creative thinking skills to find different applications of robotics and programming in other fields. This game develops problem solving skills, exercises effective communication and collaboration skills, encourages flexibility and adaptability. Students are formulating and expressing ideas. They are encouraged to experiment and test out ideas; This game requires the decision-making process within a team, while stimulating proportional thinking and proportional reasoning by thinking in proportion to solve the mathematical tasks while visualizing the solution both on the screen by programing, as well as on a physical level with the robot. Students also exercise logical thinking as solutions to this game are interconnected. Expected student constructions: Pieces of code, robot movement. Expected forms of student dialogue: Collaboration
    Duration: 45 minutes
    Type: Exploration , Experimentation
    Orchestration: Group work
    Teaching Methods:
    Subject Related: 2-dimensional coordinate systems; , 3-dimensional coordinate systems , whole numbers , fractions , proportions between time, distance and movement , basic Scratch programming , understanding of what a robot is and know some common robotic parts;
    Skills Learning Outcomes: Students understand that robots are programmable; Students apply sequences of actions to program their robot; Students discuss, learn and use the robotics key elements while generating ideas about the creative real-life problem solving;
    THE WASTE SEPARATION CHALLENGE
    Description: Students build on the knowledge, gained during the previous games to create a simulation of a waste separation station. Games are played by 3-4 students, ideally from different teams, so that every student relies on the support of 3-4 peers and could possibly switch with them at any point. The setting of the game consists of 2-4 tables merged together with a sufficient amount of chairs around them so that 2-4 teams could work on them. Every team has their own computer and robotic arm (in case of PCs that can’t be easily moved, USB extension cables will be needed). Arms are placed on the same game board. The game board could be one of the sheets they previously worked on but should now be divided into three segments. This way Arm 3 will be responsible for collecting textile (in our case felt balls), Arm 2 will collect bio waste (in our case it is represented by the coffee capsules) and Arm 1 will collect plastic (bottle caps). Elements are collected from all over the field and placed in respectively marked rectangle. All elements are scattered in the middle of the field in a way that will prevent every arm being able to collect all objects of the material it is responsible for collecting, without relying on somebody else helping them out by pushing or dropping an element they need within their range. The teams have 7 minutes for actual waste collection and 3 minutes to discuss or come up with a strategy before the game and to put the arm in a starting position of their choice. After the game, a collaborative reflection lead by the tutors takes place. Score is formed by how many items are overall collected by all teams. In case more time is left for this game, tutors might introduce a designed conflict – either by firstly playing this game competitively, or by not stating in advance that teams should work together and help each other. This way when students and tutors collaboratively reflect on the outcomes of the game after the game itself, tutors could lead them to reach the conclusion that a collaborative approach to the game is what ultimately would lead to success. In such case, the score might initially be measured in another way, depending on the context, for instance – winning team has more elements collected. Students are left to organize their programming however they feel most comfortable and appropriate. Workshop objectives supported: Students built on what they already know about coordinate systems and proportional argumentation of programming decisions. Game develops collaborative and team spirit, allowing for students to practice compassion and feel safe obtaining feedback by their peers and by the behavior of the robot. This game develops problem solving skills, exercises effective communication and collaboration skills, encourages flexibility and adaptability. Students are formulating and expressing ideas. They are encouraged to experiment and test out ideas; They share and gain expertise and are encouraged by their teammates and peers from other groups. This game requires the decision-making process within a team, while stimulating proportional thinking and proportional reasoning by thinking in proportion to solve the mathematical tasks while visualizing the solution both on the screen by programming, as well as on a physical level with the robot. Expected student constructions: Organized robot movement Expected forms of student dialogue: Collaboration, Competition (not optimal)
    Duration: 75 minutes
    Type: Reflection , Exploration , Experimentation
    Orchestration: Group work
    Teaching Methods:
    Subject Related: 2-dimensional coordinate systems; , 3-dimensional coordinate systems , whole numbers , fractions , proportions between time, distance and movement , basic Scratch programming , understanding of what a robot is and know some common robotic parts;
    Skills Learning Outcomes: Students understand that robots are programmable; Students apply sequences of actions to program their robot; Students discuss, learn and use the robotics key elements while generating ideas about the creative real-life problem solving;
    FEEDBACK AND EVALUATION, FINAL GAMES AND CONCLUSIONS
    Description: In addition to the activity sheets that students complete during activity phases, finally they discuss in classroom the difficulties, the different solutions, the limitations that may have found in every step. They also fill in an evaluation questionnaire and teacher gets short informal open interviews from students that want to share their experience. Children are asked about their recommendations and their favorite games from both sessions. Tutors give instructions on how to complete the evaluation papers and thanks children for participating in the workshop. Students have time for their final experiments. They are left with the opportunity to ask questions and play a final game if time allows it. Workshop objectives supported: Ultimately, students gain understanding of what a robot is and know some common robotic parts; They understand that robots are programmable and gain knowledge on sensors and some different types of sensors; Students are aware that different sensors serve different purpose; They have already worked on the subjects of mathematics and informatics and have covered a lot of subject related material. The final games are informal and serve as a conclusion to the workshop. They support the objectives related to fostering curiosity, experimentation and collaboration. Expected student constructions: n/a
    Duration: 15 minutes
    Type: Reflection , Evaluation , Exploration
    Orchestration: Individual work , Group work
    Teaching Methods:
    Subject Related: 2-dimensional coordinate systems; , 3-dimensional coordinate systems , whole numbers , fractions , proportions between time, distance and movement , basic Scratch programming , understanding of what a robot is and know some common robotic parts;
    Skills Learning Outcomes: Students understand that robots are programmable; Students apply sequences of actions to program their robot; Students discuss, learn and use the robotics key elements while generating ideas about the creative real-life problem solving;
    ASSESSMENTS

    INTRODUCTION & PRE-WORKSHOP EVALUATION: The tutors introduce themselves, explain what they do and why they came to the school. They also explain what is the purpose of this activity and what are the games that students will engage with through the robot. Next, they ask the students if they have had any robotics and/or programming experience, what is their attitude on mathematics and robotics in order to break the ice and put children in the mood for sharing and thinking about robotics. Children are also asked how robots could be applied to solve real-life problems, whether they think of robotics and mathematics as sciences that are abstract and distant from other domains, in order to explore their attitudes on the applicability of robotics. The purpose is to become familiar with the audience and vice versa and to explore their existing attitudes. The researchers introduce themselves as robot enthusiasts and math-lovers and explain that in this workshop they will play and work together with the student teams in order to solve several mathematical games using the robotic arm and play a recycling game with the robots. Tutors introduce themselves as researchers and explain to students why their feedback is important to them and why their feedback is what shapes the future of robotics in education and why we believe robotics has a place in the education process. Following this, children fill out the Pre-Workshop Questionnaire and the Draw a Male or a Female Scientist at Work evaluation activities. Children are briefly familiarized with the evaluation activities and how to go about them, how to fill them in, how their personal information will be anonymized and who will read what they wrote. After the evaluation, the tutors introduce the students to the robotic arm, saying a few words about how it works, its parts and its degrees of freedom, as well as how we will program it. Students are handed out the Anatomy of the Arm handouts and are encouraged to explore the Scratch blocks that control every part of the arm to test out if everything works properly. Meanwhile the tutors go around the groups to ensure all arms work properly and work closely with the groups with limited to no experience with Scratch programming, if such, answer the students’ questions and troubleshoot technical issues. While talking to every groups, tutors emphasize on the following: 1. In order to complete the games, they will need to collaborate with their teammates and with students from other groups possibly. 2. Switching roles is of utmost experience to the success of the group and that everyone has to gain experience. 3. We are here to have fun, work together and learn new things – it is okay to not know something and it is okay to ask other students for their expertise and advice. We all work together. In case of an argument or a noticeable group dysfunction, children are encouraged by tutors to find a way to work past possible differences and disagreement within a team, by supporting them on occasions with advice to: a) ask questions that promote understanding (i.e. if a group member makes a suggestion then they others are expected to ask why this suggestion is appropriate for what the group attempts to do); b) ask questions that challenge suggestions (why is this a good idea?); c) be open to trying new ideas; d) respect the other's opinions and do not offense the team members if an idea is not appropriate; e) the group takes responsibility for all the choices made and responsibility is not an issue of the individual (the one who made a wrong suggestion); f) trying to identify what each member is good at and use his/her abilities to support group work; g) try to engage all group members in the task. Workshop objectives supported: Students gain basic understanding of the robotic arm and how it functions; They understand that robots are programmable and gain knowledge on how a command might affect this particular robot’s behavior; They know that commands could be programmed to last for a certain duration, i.e. 1 second; Students are aware that different robots are made to serve different purposes; Foster communication and collaboration skills; Practicing communication skills in terms of formulating and expressing ideas; Decision-making within a team; Expected student constructions: First pieces of code, robot movement. Expected forms of student dialogue: Collaboration; Negotiation; Communication; Teaching method: Evaluation activities – Instruction; Introduction activities – Discussion, experimentation, demonstration by example;

    FEEDBACK AND EVALUATION, FINAL GAMES AND CONCLUSIONS: In addition to the activity sheets that students complete during activity phases, finally they discuss in classroom the difficulties, the different solutions, the limitations that may have found in every step. They also fill in an evaluation questionnaire and teacher gets short informal open interviews from students that want to share their experience. Children are asked about their recommendations and their favorite games from both sessions. Tutors give instructions on how to complete the evaluation papers and thanks children for participating in the workshop. Students have time for their final experiments. They are left with the opportunity to ask questions and play a final game if time allows it. Workshop objectives supported: Ultimately, students gain understanding of what a robot is and know some common robotic parts; They understand that robots are programmable and gain knowledge on sensors and some different types of sensors; Students are aware that different sensors serve different purpose; They have already worked on the subjects of mathematics and informatics and have covered a lot of subject related material. The final games are informal and serve as a conclusion to the workshop. They support the objectives related to fostering curiosity, experimentation and collaboration. Expected student constructions: n/a

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    Author: Christina Todorova
    Where does this fit in the ER4STEM Framework?