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Educational robotics proposes the use of robots as a teaching resource that enables inexperienced students to approach topics in fields unrelated to robotics. In recent years, these activities have grown substantially in elementary and secondary school classrooms and also in outreach experiences to interest students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) undergraduate programs. A key problem in educational robotics is providing a satisfactory, adequate, easy-to-use interface between an inexpert public and the robots. This paper presents a behavior-based application for programming robots and the design of robotic-centered courses and other outreach activities. Evaluation data show that over 90% of students find it easy to use. These activities are part of a comprehensive outreach program conducted by the Exact and Natural Science Faculty of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina (FCEN-UBA). Statistical data show that since 2009 over 35% of new students at the FCEN-UBA have participated in some outreach activity, suggesting their significant impact on student enrollment in STEM-related programs.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2013