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Encouraging children's interest in science and technology, as well as increasing their technological literacy, may be regarded as one of the educational paradigms of this century. The authors of this paper, affiliated with the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Chile, Santiago, have designed schemes to contribute to both goals and set guidelines for curricular and extracurricular school activities related to technology. In this context, this paper reviews their experience concerning practical robotics courses for children developed since 2000. More than 700 children and 90 school teachers have already attended these robotics courses, and the model is now being implemented in several schools and institutions in Chile. The robotics courses evolved to their present form from ideas developed during the late 1990s, mostly in the United States. Some preliminary assessment data is presented to support this approach. Current projects are also outlined. It is believed that the authors' experience might be of interest to engineering schools elsewhere.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2004