Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Increasing Students’ Interest With Low-Cost cell bots


                 Robotics is a fascinating discipline that easily engages engineering students. As robots in education are stimulating and motivating, there are good reasons for introducing robotics activities very early in course curricula, allowing students to easily perceive the relationships between undergraduate courses, in their theory and practice. Robotics also offers a good basis for teaching different engineering disciplines.This paper introduces the use of a flexible and affordable educational robot specifically developed for the practical experimentation inherent to technological disciplines. The robot has been designed to be reconfigurable and extendible, serving as an experimental platform across several undergraduate courses. As most students have a mobile cell phone, this was used as the main control computer for the so-called CellBot, thus avoiding any need to deal with the details of microcontrollers or other embedded computing devices. Assessment results are also presented, based on a pre- and post-survey of student opinion administered to 204 science and engineering students from several universities. Among the conclusions are that 83% of the students prefer to use these low-cost robots as tools to improve their learning of the theory in several disciplines, and 71% of the students stated that they prefer to have their own robot to experiment with, instead of using a didactic kit loaned to them by the university.

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