1 University CEU Cardenal Herrera (SPAIN)
2 Universitat Jaume I (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2018 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 975-980
ISBN: 978-84-697-9480-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2018.1188
Conference name: 12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2018
Location: Valencia, Spain
Over the last few years, in most universities around the world, specifically those offering Engineering degrees, low cost platforms have been used to improve the teaching experience in several subjects, in particular those related to Robotics, but also for developing other kinds of applications focused on data processing, advanced measuring and communication amongst other possibilities. Although all low cost platforms are useful, the role that LEGO Mindstorms has played in college engineering education over the last 15 years is striking. The main reason is that Lego Mindstorms series of kits contain software and hardware to create customizable, programmable robots. They include an intelligent brick computer that controls the system, a set of modular sensors and motors as well as Lego parts from the Technic line to create the mechanical systems, that allows the construction of many different robotic systems.

There are many kinds of LEGO Mindstorms applications in aided teaching for undergraduate and postgraduate students in the literature for teaching computer programming. In [4] was investigated how engineering student achievements were affected by robotics technology when learning computer programming algorithm logics, by means of LEGO Mindstorm EV3. The statistical results showed in [4] demonstrated that Lego robot usage raised student achievements in an introductory computer programming course. LEGO Mindstorms have been used to teach most common programming languages such as C, Java, ADA, Phyton, Labview, and Matlab/simulink. In some cases, the goal was directly teaching code. In other cases, the language code is supposed to be known and used in class to reinforce the code knowledge, See for instance [2]. There are also applications for teaching control techniques (see for instance, [3]), for teaching robotics [4], etc.

The aim of the presented paper is to present a new educational platform based on the Matlab-Simulink package to teach computer programming with LEGO EV3. It has not been used frequently in the literature because it is available since 2013 but offers relevant computational improvements compared with previous versions, NXT and RCX, that allow to be used even for research tests.

The proposed educational platform has been successfully tested in several situations. The first one at the Bachelor’s Degree Final Project of two Computer Science students. The second one is for one intership student and the last one is in an experimental test of a new motion planning technique developed by the authors of the present paper, see [5].

[1] N. Ozuron, H. Bicen. Does the Inclusion of Robots Affect Engineering Students Achievement in Computer Programming Courses?. Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, pp. 4779-4787, 2017.
[2] T. Toivonen, I. Jormanainen, M. Tukiainen. An Open Robotics Environment Motivates Students to Learn the Key Concepts of Artificial Neural Networks and Reinforcement Learning. International Conference on Robotics and Education. , pp. 317-328, 2017.
[3] J. Ding, Z. Li, T. Pan. Control System Teaching and Experiment Using LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Robot. International Journal of Information and Education Technology, vol. 7, Is. 4, pp. 309-317, 2017.
[4] S. Kim,H. Oh,J. Choi andA. Tsourdos. Using Hands-on Project with Lego Mindstorms in a Graduate Course. International Journal of Engineering Education, Vol 30 Is 2. pp. 458-470 2014.
Robots in education, LEGO Mindstorm, EV3, low cost platforms, Matlab/Simulink.