University of Castilla-La Mancha (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 1492-1499
ISBN: 978-84-617-2484-0
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 17-19 November, 2014
Location: Seville, Spain
During the summer of 2014, the University of Castilla-La Mancha, UCLM, has taken part in a nation-wide, government supported experience called Campus Científicos de Verano (Scientific Summer Camps), CCV, in which top marks selected students from Secondary Schools all across Spain have attended to Scientific Camps of one week of duration in the campus of Ciudad Real of the UCLM. Four camps were offered at UCLM: chemistry and recycling; food technologies; bridge design; and open hardware robotics. This paper details the outcomes of this experience in the field of robotics, which, either tangentially or directly, introduces the students to several different scientific and technical disciplines. This CCV was carried out in the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Industriales (School of Engineering), ETSII, of Ciudad Real.

The syllabus of the camp was the following:
• Introduction to applications and research in robotics.
• Introduction to 3D design and printing.
• Robot assembly from 3D printed parts and an electronics kit.
• Reasoning and communication of robots: microcontrollers and data buses.
• Programming basics:
o App Inventor.
o BitBloq.
• Movement and perception of a robot: actuators and sensors.
• The intelligence of a robot: location, mapping, navigation and reasoning.
• Project: Line follower.
• Competition.
• Presentation of results.

This is a very extensive program for a week-length course. However, theory is only briefly introduced, as students lack of the mathematical tools needed for a detailed description, and emphasis is given to the practical activities. They learn and practice on:
• How to design 3D parts in a computer. They are then asked to modify a given design (e.g. a connecting rod-crank mechanism) that is printed later, so that they see the physical results of their work.
• How to assemble the mechanical parts of the robots and place adequately the electronics: sensors, actuators and microcontroller.
• How to program a microcontroller. This is the main content of the camp, and includes learning how to download programs to the microcontroller via USB, which are the basic concepts of programming (variables, functions, decisions, loops), and how to read and write in digital and analog ports of an electronics board.
• How to give intelligence to the robot and apply to the problem of following a circuit of black lines over a white background.

They are given a basic algorithm for line following that does not work well under some circumstances and are asked to improve it for the final competition.

Right after they finish programming their robots, a competition is held to find out the most robust and fast of the programmed robots. This point has proven very important for the motivation of the students who are usually very competitive and try to stand out over their classmates. Finally, a public presentation of the results and a demonstration of the line following project is carried out.

After the camp, the students were requested to fill a survey regarding its development and how it has influenced their intentions of carrying out university level studies. Unanimously, the attendants point at the summer camp as a great experience and state that these activities strongly confirm their interest in studying engineering/scientific degrees.
Robotics, Secondary Students, Scientific Vocations.