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The Little Robot Tournament That Could

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Mobile Robotics in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1150.1 - 8.1150.6



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Paper Authors

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Darcy Schein

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Cathryne Stein

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

Session 1320

The Little Robot Tournament That Could

Cathryne Stein, Darcy Hartz Schein KISS Institute for Practical Robotics / (405) 579-4609

Abstract The Botball Educational Robotics Program for middle and high school students is designed to leverage the excitement students feel about robotics and use this to improve skills and understanding of science, programming, and engineering for several different kinds of learners. Botball features autonomous student-created robots in regional tournaments, and caps each season off with a national tournament. This year we grew the national tournament into a full conference designed specifically for students, teachers, families, mentors and professional researchers and engineers interested in contributing to this educational process. Despite obstacles and a learning curve, the results were valuable.

Introduction When you take an educational robotics program that culminates in a national robotics tournament, and you announce that this tournament is now going to be the centerpiece of a new educational robotics conference for middle and high school students and teachers, you are going to hear some muttering. People don’t like the thought of change, generally speaking. When teachers ask if students can just sign up for the tournament alone, and you tell them no, registrations are for the entire conference, which features speakers from NASA, project management specialists, AI engineers, and both student and teacher tracks, and would they and their students care to submit a paper or give a demonstration? . . . people will stare at you in disbelief (and you will discover that many teachers have never attended an academic or professional conference.) But when the last 9th grade student has given her demo, the teachers’ best practices workshops are over, technical innovation has been presented by 6th through 12th graders along with supporting math, and the tournament trophies have all been awarded, then you realize that people have clearly changed their attitudes. In fact, they’re already talking about what they’re planning to show for next year. KISS Institute for Practical Robotics launched the Botball National Educational Robotics Conference last year, specifically geared to middle and high school students, teachers who use autonomous robotics in the classroom, and the families who love them. The results were more satisfying than anyone could have predicted.

Background: Botball Educational Robotics Program The field of robotics is well suited to education. It is multidisciplinary, combining science, math,

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Schein, D., & Stein, C. (2003, June), The Little Robot Tournament That Could Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11742

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