PEDAGOGICAL ROBOTICS IN ENGINEERING LEARNING
In the document “Metas educativas 2021: la educación que queremos para la generación de los bicentenarios” Educative goals 2021: education we want for bicentennial generation, one chapter considers new technologies in education, due to the impact of such technologies in everyday life.
Since 1976, several researchers, mainly from Canada and France, have been working on what they called pedagogical robotics, which nowadays contributes to some educational areas in Mexico, not only with constructive purposes, but also with a focus on the development of skills such as the learning of mathematics, informatics, science and introduction to technology, among other topics.
Robotics in education has had positive impact, because it develops desirable competencies, such as teamwork, for the manufacture and control of automatized mechanisms. For instance, it is required to process some information, either using a computer or a mobile device, and this implies the use of communication protocols. Meanwhile, for the control of mechanisms, knowledge of informatics, mathematics and other subjects is also important.
Since February 2012, at the University of Mexico’s Faculty of Engineering, some work has been developed as part of the project “Improvement of the quality of education in basic sciences through robotics”, sponsored by the institutional organism Project Support Program for Innovation and Improvement of Teaching, known as PAPIME. This project includes pedagogical robotics as a theoretical background, in order to encourage engineering students from the first semesters to apply topics learned in different classes in the development of projects that deal with robot construction and automatized mechanisms, which allow them to apply what they learn in basic science classes such as Calculus, Analytic Geometry, Differential Equations, among others.
Beyond the immediate application of knowledge on these topics, this kind of work pretends to encourage students to develop different kinds of competencies as they are build a robot, and, working heuristically, they can be driven intuitively from the concrete to the abstract, whereas theoretical learning focuses on abstract thinking and rarely reaches concrete knowledge.
The first part of this work will describe a case study considering some of the prototypes developed for Statics and Analytic Geometry classes, in order to depict the challenges that come up when manufacturing and controlling automatized mechanisms. Later, it’ll be described how this project has evolved regarding the improvement of operational logistics to respond adequately and provide students with a better understanding of the topics they require to construct different prototypes.
Up to now, according to empirical evidence, the making of prototypes shows wide acceptance among students, besides the fact that the teaching methods used in class have not been substantially modified. This tells us that the learning possibilities for students have increased, which itself is great.
At the end of this work, the reader will have a general idea of how we take care of the design process and the building of robots. The reader will also be able to make inferences about the improvement of learning and the generation of learning environments that stimulate the development of logical thinking through the construction of robots, applied on the teaching of basic sciences in Engineering.