City University of New York, Medgar Evers College (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 2980-2987
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
The Lego Mindstorms Robotics Invention System (RIS) has been used in our Introductory Programming (CS1), Digital Systems, and Artificial Intelligence classes at Medgar Evers College of The City University of New York, for the past few years. During this that time, we used the RIS in individualized stand-alone course-specific settings. While effective, this approach provided a limited view of how these robotics solutions would actually relate to large real-world problems. Spring semester 2009, we modified our robotics approach by integrating the RIS across several courses within our computer science curriculum … we took a Teaming approach! Teaming is a program of workshops and publications designed to encourage educational reform by changing the fundamental learning dynamics of the classroom. Teaming participants learn how to form a team and work effectively in a team environment to develop a fundamental workplace skill. Even the U.S. Department of Labor reported in, "Skills Employers Want," that what employers want most in today's workplace include: Verbal communication, Interpersonal abilities, and Teamwork.

This paper describes a computer science teaming project conducted at Medgar Evers College/CUNY that included the following computer science courses: Artificial Intelligence (CS 280), Data Communications and Web Technologies (CS 305), and Programming Language Paradigms (CS 350). Students were assigned to teams of subgroups and required to work effectively in a team environment to develop their respective component of the robotics project. This was done by dividing students into sub teams based on the computer science courses in which they were enrolled, and the subsystem of the overall project. At the end of the semester, all subgroups were required to present their work as a single unified team. The objective was to have students develop skills of verbal communication, interpersonal abilities, and teamwork fundamentals, in addition to developing their computing skills.

The Robotics Laboratory, housed in the Major R. Owens NASA Aerospace Educational Laboratory (AEL) at Medgar Evers College/CUNY, is the primary site used to teach our robotics-related classes. A variety of robotic workshops have been presented, over recent years, to a diverse set of populations at the lab. Elementary school students (6th-graders) have studied RoboLab. High School students have studied RCX Code, and NQC. College students have used these languages as well in a Digital Systems course and have also used XSLisp at the lab in their Artificial Intelligence course. These workshops and courses, however, were taught using robotics as it applied to a specific course.

The introduction of robotic across the curriculum and teaming to robotics has enabled students to successfully design, build, program, and document robots. All while using science, engineering, technology, math, and writing skills with a comprehensive real-world project that reinforced their learning across several courses in the CS curriculum. Now, our effort is to continue taking a real-world approach to problem solving with teaming, and have students collaborate across courses on other large projects. One such project is CubeSAT, an international collaboration of over 40 universities, high schools and private firms developing small satellites that carry scientific, private and government payloads.
lego mindstorms ris, robot programming, artificial intelligence, data communication, programming.