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Robot control instruction for eighth graders

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2 Author(s)
H. Mukai ; Dept. of Electr. & Syst. Eng., Washington Univ., St. Louis, MO, USA ; N. McGregor

The engineering faculty at Washington University has initiated an educational program for local public schools in which robotics is used to introduce middle school students to engineering. Under the guidance of the faculty and participating teachers at Gateway Middle School, graduate teaching fellows have designed and implemented instructional robotics modules for eighth graders with the help of undergraduate teaching assistants. The eighth grade was chosen because science and math coursework begins to focus on experimentation and problem solving and because students at that age begin to consider potential careers and make choices about courses for high school. The team chose robotics as a vehicle for teaching young students the principles of programming and design. Indeed, the students learn how a microcontroller (chip) is programmed to perform useful tasks, how information is passed from the chip to actuators, how a feedback system works, and how engineers design and control a robot. The most important principle the team has learned is that students respond much better to open-ended, challenging, and creative team projects than they do to lectures and worksheets.

Published in:

IEEE Control Systems  (Volume:24 ,  Issue: 5 )