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Using Pdas On Autonomous Robots To Promote Engineering To Middle School Students

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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

Laptop/Handheld Computing in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1255.1 - 8.1255.11



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Paper Authors

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Roy McGrann

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Abraham Howell

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

Session 1320

Using PDAs on Autonomous Robots to Promote Engineering to Middle School Students

Abraham L. Howell, Roy T.R. McGrann

Mechanical Engineering Department Binghamton University (SUNY)


The utilization of robots and handheld PDAs (Portable Digital Assistant) to promote the teaching of science and engineering along with a specific experiment and a future experiment will be discussed in this paper. Students are introduced to how valuable science and engineering are to our society by bringing the science to the students through the use of such learning agents as robots. Robots can facilitate learning by intriguing and holding onto the student’s interest. Working directly with the robots can help students to formulate an improved knowledge and understanding of the importance and relevance of science and math. All the work discussed in this paper has been developed through the implementation of several experiments developed at Binghamton University for use in local middle schools.


The research discussed in this paper is focused on developing a robot and curriculum that can be easily integrated into the math and science courses of 5th and 6 th grade students. The prototype robot for this research was first introduced and tested by students from public schools in Binghamton and Vestal, New York. Students in the 5th and 6 th grades from local schools spent time at Binghamton University over their ‘02 summer break to participate in “Exploring Engineering”. “Exploring Engineering” is a weeklong event that engages students in real engineering situations and exposes students to many facets of engineering and science. During this weeklong event, among other activities, students are exposed to robotics and mechanical engineering by building and testing simple remote-controlled robots. Students also gain an insight to the history and world of mechanical engineering while attending a presentation given by a mechanical engineering professor.

The prototype robot

The prototype robot used in “Exploring Engineering” is a robot named the CD-Robot. The CD-Robot is a remote-controlled robot that has its body fabricated from scrap compact discs (CDs). Scrap CDs were chosen as the primary building material for the CD-Robot due to their easy availability and inherent need to be recycled. A picture of the CD-Robot is shown in figure 1 below. The cost to build a CD-Robot is approximately $65.

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

McGrann, R., & Howell, A. (2003, June), Using Pdas On Autonomous Robots To Promote Engineering To Middle School Students Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11429

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