Lawrence Technological University
College of Arts and Science
Department of Mathematics and Computer Sciences

Handouts

A course of study in robotics education

An introduction, MCS 4981-E01 Directed Studies

Robofest is a wonderful, fun event. But remember the prize is not the trophy. The prize is the interest instilled in young people: in robotics, engineering, science and teamwork. What skills do you need to integrate all this into a year-around curriculum? Actually, quite a few.

Of course the professional educator for primary and secondary students is already skilled in many areas. This is just a list of topics where further development should be considered.

  1. Why teach children to program, can you teach children to program, and how do you teach children to program.? A discussion of Seymour Papert's works about the pathway from Piaget to robotics.
  2. Understanding a programmer's ethic for children (and adults). The Free Software Foundation, Open Source Software, and Open Courseware. A discussion of work by John Stallman, Eric Raymond and Sarah Flannery.
  3. A little Unix, Knoppix, CUPS and Samba. An unconnected laptop is just an expensive desktop that conserves space and expends teacher time charging and replacing expensive batteries. To support a classroom of students sharing files and printing, a teacher needs to know how to build and run a very low cost, simple network.
  4. A little electronics. To run a safe classroom, a teacher should understand the basics of ground-faults and how to identify and obviate hazards in the inevitable tangle of power cords.
  5. A little basic computer science. Microprocessors, hardware, firmware and software. Compilers, interpreters and threaded interpretive languages.
  6. Geometry (Euclidean and non-Euclidean) and drawing with vectors. Postscript, LOGO and turtle graphics, and a LEGO Mindstorms turtle.
  7. LOGO
  8. Details of the LEGO Mindstorms platform.
  9. A little more geometry. LEGO organization and construction techniques.
  10. Icon based programming. RCX Code and Robolab.
  11. Text based programming for the RCX firmware interpreter. NQC.
  12. Replacing the RCX firmware. LegOS, LeJOS, PbForth and pbasic.
  13. A little more electronics. Replacing the RCX hardware with custom sensors and actuators.

Where to start? This Summer LTU will host a 1 credit course (MCS 4981 - E01) for teachers with the following general structure

The exact arrangements for this course will be adjusted to accommodate the registered participants.

Revised May 12, 2005