Lawrence Technological University
College of Arts and Science
Department of Mathematics and Computer Sciences
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- A little basic computer science. Microprocessors, hardware,
firmware and software. Compilers, interpreters and threaded
- Geometry (Euclidean and non-Euclidean) and drawing with
vectors. Postscript, LOGO and turtle graphics, and a LEGO
- Details of the LEGO Mindstorms platform.
- A little more geometry. LEGO organization and construction
- Icon based programming. RCX Code and Robolab.
- Text based programming for the RCX firmware interpreter. NQC.
- Replacing the RCX firmware. LegOS, LeJOS, PbForth and pbasic.
- 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
- 4 2-hour lecture format sessions in the late afternoon or early
evening during June.
- Foundations, with Papert's ideas.
- Practical aspects of the LEGO Mindstorms platform:
organization, safety and construction geometry.
- Icon based programming.
- Text based programming.
- Workshop format sessions, perhaps combined with a Summer
Camp for the teachers' students.
- On-line elective modules, tests, assessments and feedback.
There is a short self-test you might want to try if you are interested
in this course.
The exact arrangements for this course will be adjusted to accommodate
the registered participants.
Revised May 12, 2005