Educational robotics has been used for a relatively long time to promote the development of students’ computational thinking, but in most cases, such activities are offered as extracurricular activities to students who are interested in robotics and programming or in specific study programmes in higher education. Despite the fact that Seymour Papert developed the programming language LOGO to change the way children learn to use technology as early as 1980, this concept is still not widely used in compulsory education. It should be kept in mind that the inclusion of robotics in the learning process can not only contribute to the development of competencies such as programming and the integration of different components, sensors and actuators but also support the learning of mathematics, physics and chemistry in an innovative way. To support the development of innovative solutions for teaching educational robotics to primary school students, the ERASMUS+ project “Innovative Educational Robotics Strategies for Primary School Experiences” (No. 2019-1-IT02-KA201-063073) was launched, aiming to develop a variety of teaching materials for both students and teachers, to create educational robots for two levels of complexity, and to include these activities in the compulsory schooling process for primary school students. In the initial stage, students acquire basic knowledge of robotics, and at the second level of difficulty, the focus is on marine robots. In order to evaluate the results achieved by all these activities, a design-based research model has been developed that uses several complementary research methods, and this paper describes this model, showing how it organizes data acquisition and uses them to improve materials to offer scientifically proven activities.
In the future boys and girls will be employed in, and maybe create, new jobs connected with technology. We present a project whose aim was to raise interest in STEM education in K12 students and, in particular, to address the lack of participation of female students in STEM careers. For this reason, in September 2017, 20 students (12 girls and 8 boys) took part in a two-weeks robotic camp to learn robotics and its application on agriculture. An evaluation of attitudes and performances was accomplished by delivering a questionnaire and by recording the results from day-today challenges.
This paper presents the design of an assessment process and its outcomes to investigate the impact of Educational Robotics activities on students' learning. Through data analytics techniques, the authors will explore the activities' output from a pedagogical and quantitative point of view. Sensors are utilized in the context of an Educational Robotics activity to obtain a more effective robot–environment interaction. Pupils work on specific exercises to make their robot smarter and to carry out more complex and inspirational projects: the integration of sensors on a robotic prototype is crucial, and learners have to comprehend how to use them. In the presented study, the potential of Educational Data Mining is used to investigate how a group of primary and secondary school students, using visual programming (Lego Mindstorms EV3 Education software), design programming sequences while they are solving an exercise related to an ultrasonic sensor mounted on their robotic artifact. For this purpose, a tracking system has been designed so that every programming attempt performed by students' teams is registered on a log file and stored in an SD card installed in the Lego Mindstorms EV3 brick. These log files are then analyzed using machine learning techniques (k-means clustering) in order to extract different patterns in the creation of the sequences and extract various problem-solving pathways performed by students. The difference between problem-solving pathways with respect to an indicator of early achievement is studied.
Educational Robotics is rapidly gaining attention as an effective methodology to develop skills and engage students preserving their peculiar style of learning. It is often tied together with two other methodologies, Coding and Tinkering, characterized by a similar hands-on approach. In order to fully exploit their inclusive features, teachers need to be prepared to introduce them into classroom. It is often noticed that in service teachers are not yet fully prepared to face this challenge. Many actions have been established to recover this situation, but a proper method for assessing whether these actions are successful or not is not yet developed. This paper presents a methodology for introducing in-service teachers to Educational Robotics, Coding and Tinkering and for assessing the outcomes. 184 in-service teachers were assessed and results analysed. Final considerations draw a picture of the situation amongst the sample chosen for the present study, observing that the intervention seemed to be successful in providing key notions and examples, and improving teachers’ self-confidence.