New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Computers in Education
Recently there have been a rising popularity in the use of robotics as a vehicle to expose K-12 students to the STEM disciplines. A very common practice is to have the students build remote control robotic vehicles for competitions such as the various First USA Robotics Competitions. Our goal is to go beyond having the students simply build the robot and control it using a remote control to teaching them more advanced engineering concepts. In this work we are taking a robotics kit designed for K-12 students, combining it with a robotics educational tool designed for students in higher education and creating a robotics educational system designed to teach higher level engineering concepts to K-12 students. This is an ambitious challenge with promising results.
This paper introduces an educational robotics system that, given an appropriate task, allows the students to design, model, simulate, build, and program their robotic arm to accomplish this task. Emphasis is placed on the process of modeling and simulating their design in order to assure correctness before physical construction. The system includes a Pitsco Tetrix Prime robotics kit, designed for K-12 robotics activities, an Atmel XMEGA-A3BU XPlained microcontroller board and a custom circuit board, both designed to provide electrical signals to the servo motors in the kit given commands from the robotics software tool and the software tool itself. The robotics software tool was developed by our research team for the purpose of supporting undergraduate and graduate introductory robotics courses.
The system was used in the Summer Research Opportunity camp offered at __ University’s __Center for STEM Education. This summer camp was offered as a 40 hours, two-week camp to middle school students These students must have participated in the _ _ _ Regional Science Fair in order to apply for the camp. The students were asked to design a robotic arm that can hold a pencil and write their name on a sheet of paper. Observations show that the students were more comfortable designing their arm with the kit as opposed to first designing it on paper. However they did prefer to program their virtual arm first before running their program on the physical arm demonstrating the understanding of the concept of modeling and simulation in the development process.
The learning outcomes include learning the concept of modeling and simulation in the design process, modeling their arm’s kinematics using the standard robotics Denavit-Hartenberg parameters, and industrial robotics programming.
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