I was really interested when I stumbled across this robot. This floor robot has the greatest functionality of all floor robots with an extension programming language which makes it suitable for KS5 work. I think this should be explored as a KS3 to KS4 programming challenge.
Here is the release video:
This shows you something of the visual programming environment:
However it does not do the system justice as a better description can be found on this blog
check this reblog http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/diy/your-kid-wants-a-thymio-ii-education-robot
The Thymio II comes from those robot geniuses at EPFL Lausanne in Switzerland. It’s an educational robot designed from the ground up to be easy and fun to mess with for people with very limited (or no) previous experience in robotics. It’s also designed from the ground up to be cheap, at just about $100 USD. How is this possible, you ask? Apparently, there’s pretty much no profit margin or distribution cost, and all you’re paying for is the hardware and for some people to put it together for you into a working robot. Not too shabby. And this robot comes with a bunch of sensors and other goodies:
Yes, there’s a trailer hook. So you can stop worrying about that. And those “mechanic fixation” points are Lego compatible. To program Thymio II, you can use a nifty graphical interface, or a simple programming language called Aseba that’s similar to Matlab. And oh hey did we mention that this thing is open source from source code to hardware? ‘Cause it is.
Seriously, $100 seems very cheap for a platform like this. It’s cheap enough that a $1,000 grant could outfit an entire classroom with robots that are colorful, versatile, fun, and can be tackled with a GUI before graduating to writing code. There’s lots more info along with examples of what Thymio II can do in a wiki that you can check out here, and you can adopt one of your own at the link below.
A Study of Motivation and Problem Solving Using LEGO® Education BuildToExpress™ in Elementary Social Studies Lessons
Cindy Little, Ph.D.
BuildToExpress™ is a process that focuses on developing academic, social, and cognitive skills in individuals from ages six to adult. The process uses LEGO® Education Expressions Sets that allow for the building of thoughts and ideas and contains the following four core elements:
- The Challenge: A facilitator asks participants to build something.
- The Building Phase: Participants build their responses using their individual LEGO sets.
- The Sharing Phase: Participants share their model with others.
- The Recap: The facilitator and participants summarize what was learned.
The main purpose of this mixed-methods study was to investigate whether or not this process impacted motivation and problem-solving skills in fourth-grade students during social studies lessons at an elementary school in central Texas.
The research design encompassed the following three primary objectives:
- To find out if students experience flow while using BuildToExpress
- To find out if using BuildToExpress increases intrinsic motivation
- To explore teacher and student perceptions of using BuildToExpress while solving problems
To ensure the validity of the study, the following steps were built into the research design: Choosing three classrooms (two experimental and one control) with similar student populations; triangulation of data collected on flow (two trained observers comparing observed flow behaviors with student self-reports); the use of a standardized, psychometrically valid and reliable instrument to measure intrinsic motivation (the Children’s Academic Intrinsic Motivation Inventory) in an ABA modified time series experimental design; and a list of interview questions used across all group interviews.
The results of the study were very favorable:
- All students experienced mid to high levels of flow across every study session.
- Test results supported the idea that BuildToExpress increased intrinsic motivation (see below).
- Student and teacher interviews revealed that BuildToExpress positively impacted problem solving.
A bit about Dr. Little:
Dr. Cindy Little holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Baylor University, an M.A.T. in gifted education from Whitworth College, and a BA in elementary education from Northwest University. She is currently an instructor at Baylor’s School of Education where she teaches research methods and child development courses. She also has extensive experience as a senior editor and managing editor of gifted education journals, has more than 16 years experience working in pre-K through university level learning environments, and owns her own research and consulting business (www.innovrecon.com). Her areas of research interest and expertise are the theory of flow, creativity, critical thinking, and qualitative research methods.
A firm believer in constructivist, hands-on approaches to learning, Dr. Little regularly incorporates the use of the BuildToExpress process into her university coursework. She believes that in order for her students to become the best teachers, she needs to model best teaching practices. It is not enough for students to simply hear a lecture about how to use the BuildToExpress process. They need to experience the process and learn through it for themselves. She has found this approach to be very successful with her students as they find the process highly motivating and a new way to learn. It is always fun to watch adult students set their laptops, pencils, and notebooks aside and begin to build such things as their personal paradigms of education or models of best parenting practices. Dr. Little believes the BuildToExpress process holds great potential for learning across all ages of students, and she will continue to use it in both her teaching and research.