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Robotics Olympiads: A New Means To Integrate Theory And Practice In Robotics

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Mobile Robotics in Education

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1102.1 - 11.1102.14

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Paper Authors


David Ahlgren Trinity College

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David J. Ahlgren is Karl W. Hallden Professor of Engineering at Trinity College and is Director and Host of the Trinity College Fire-Fighting Home Robot Contest. His scholarly interests lie in robotics, modeling and simulation, and broadband communications amplifiers. He received the B.S. in Engineering from Trinity College, the M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Tulane University, and the Ph.D. in E.E. from The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

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Igor Verner Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

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Igor M. Verner is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Education in Technology & Science, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. His research interests are in science, mathematics, and engineering education with emphasis on technological learning environments, physical models, experiential learning, robot design and operation, spatial imagery, mechanical aptitude, mathematical learning in the context of engineering and architecture.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Robotics Olympiads: A New Means to Integrate Theory and Practice in Robotics


This paper proposes organization of theoretical robotics competitions that, in conjunction with practical robot contests, provide students with a framework for effective learning and development of engineering aptitude. Experiences with integrating theoretical tests in the Trinity College Fire-Fighting Home Robot Contest, National Botball Tournament, and International Robot Olympiad are presented.


Robot competitions are widely recognized as effective motivational and organizational frameworks for robotics research and project-based engineering education. Many educational institutions develop programs in which student teams perform robot design projects through curricula and extracurricular activities and participate in local, national and international robot contests. As motivators, guides, communicators, and evaluators of contest-oriented projects [1], robot contests provide students with experience of social interaction. Such experience is considered in education as an essential component of student cognitive development [2].

With rapidly increasing level of sophistication and reliability of robots required by the contests, robotics educators are developing new approaches to design, implementation, and evaluation of effective robotics curricula and dissemination of best practices of robotics education. This paper considers one of the aspects of robotics education; namely, understanding science and engineering concepts acquired through learning-by-doing activities in the robot project. We emphasize the need for student understanding of knowledge acquired through a robot project and propose to facilitate it by introducing theoretical tests (Robotics Olympiads) as integral parts of robot contests. We present our experience of theoretical tests at the Trinity College Fire-Fighting Home Robot Contests [3], Botball Tournaments [4], and International Robot Olympiads [5].

Teaching for Understanding and Aptitude Development

Aptitude can be defined as a capacity or potential for achievement in a given area based on the ability to understand phenomena and principles both formally and through experience [6]. The three components of the aptitude are knowledge, ability, and motivation.

Development of aptitude and understanding is not an automatic result of any learning process. From the experience of educational studies in mathematics and science education, students in the course “can acquire knowledge and routine skills without understanding their basis” [7]. Summarizing results of a large-scale project focused on teaching for understanding [8, 9], Unger pointed that in order to facilitate students’ understanding, instruction should answer the following requirements: • Design a curriculum around topics connected to students' interests and experience, and that are central to the discipline. • Clearly articulate and share with students goals of understanding.

Ahlgren, D., & Verner, I. (2006, June), Robotics Olympiads: A New Means To Integrate Theory And Practice In Robotics Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois.

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