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Precision Low-cost Robotics for Math Education (Work In Progress)

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Mathematics Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1242.1 - 26.1242.22



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Paper Authors


Ravi T. Shankar Florida Atlantic University

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Ravi Shankar has a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, and an MBA from Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL. He is currently a senior professor with the Computer and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department at Florida Atlantic University. His current research interests are on K-12 education, engineering learning theories, and education data mining. He has been well funded by the high tech industry over the years. He has 7 US patents, of which 3 have been commercialized by the university. He has published at the 2013 conference on this topic. This work is a continuation of earlier research. We plan to leverage this in developing courses to teach math with robotics to 8th and 9th graders during summer '15.

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Jean Lapaix Florida Atlantic University

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I am a senior electrical engineering undergraduate at Florida Atlantic University. I am interested in science and engineering and applying them towards math education. I am also interested in incorporating control systems to make platforms more intelligent and robust.

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Charles Perry Weinthal

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Currently Seeking a Master's in EE
Commodore Business Machines: EE: Engineering Services for Manufacturing /Production / Test-QA / Intern Training 1989-1994, Amiga / CD-TV /PC /C64/ C65
University of Central Florida: BSE-EE 1989
UCF Walking Machine Robotics Club: 1987-1989 Founding Member: - 2nd Place U. Va Nat'l Competition 1988
A.D. Henderson University School / FAU-High: Parent Mentor 2012-2015: Makerspace, FTC-Robotics, SeaPerch, EV-GT, Formula-E School Series, Quadcopters, MATE
Girl Scouts USA: Co-Leader: 2005-2015

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Don Ploger Florida Atlantic University

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DON PLOGER, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor with the College of Education. He and Dr. Ravi Shankar have worked together in developing Robotics courses for high school students. Don Ploger brings two important perspectives to this collaborative research. First, from an engineering education perspective, he emphasizes the importance of communicating essential knowledge to non-engineers. The second perspective comes from the mathematics education research literature. There is a well-established paradox: students often fail to apply familiar methods when they attempt to solve novel problems. Coordinating these perspectives has facilitated the collaboration across disciplines.

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Malissa Augustin Florida Atlantic University

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Santiago Aguerrevere

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Precision Low-Cost Robotics for Math Education Work In Progress The motivation for undertaking this research project stems from the desire to enhancehigh school students’ retention and interest in Mathematics. Such qualities would significantlyimprove their performance in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)career fields and education in general. Much research has already been performed by otherresearchers to facilitate high schools in fostering STEM interest through math education. Wehave explored the use of a robotic platform to allow for hands-on demonstration of mathematicaltopics taught in the classroom, such as Geometry and Trigonometry. Our initial demos to mathteachers were met with support for the concept, but have also led to doubts on whether thesolutions might confuse students. This was due to the fact that our low-cost robot was made outof components with poor tolerance to keep the cost low. Such poor tolerance led to the solutionsbeing imprecise during the platform’s execution. In this work, we expect to compensate for thepoor precision in distance traveled and angle turned with the use of feedback control algorithmsand custom (automated) calibration, while still keeping the cost low and simple to utilize. Assuch, this report is a work in progress and a continuation of prior research.The objective of this project includes reconstructing and redeveloping the robotic platform withimproved precision while maintaining the affordability and simplicity of the system alreadybuilt. Reconstruction consisted of analyzing past accomplishments and issues with the platformas highlighted from the research in order to maximize the effectiveness of the componentsassociated with the platform. The next step was to implement methods of utilizing opticalencoders to display data on speed, angle, and distance the platform has traveled in order to comeup with novel solutions to increase the precision of the said platform. The final step is toincorporate PID (proportional-integral-derivative) algorithms to further increase the (distanceand angular) precision of the platform in order to achieve an error value of less than one percent.All of the data and measurements will be recorded wirelessly via Bluetooth communication on adevice that the students can observe in easy-to-understand formats. Exposure to underlyingalgorithmic manipulation, which may be exposed with a button press, may help advancedstudents become involved and explore other options for further optimization.The expected outcome of this project is to convince several high schools that the roboticplatform will reinforce their students’ math education at an affordable price. With theincorporation of control algorithms, the platform will be precise enough to be an effective toolfor demonstration of mathematical concepts. The students themselves will attain a deeperunderstanding of the concepts through the utilization of this platform, and thus gain more interestin STEM.

Shankar, R. T., & Lapaix, J., & Weinthal, C. P., & Ploger, D., & Augustin, M., & Aguerrevere, S. (2015, June), Precision Low-cost Robotics for Math Education (Work In Progress) Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24579

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