ROBOTICS AS A TOOL TO INTRODUCE ENGINEERING TO SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS: HUMANOIDS VS. WHEELED ROBOTS

A. Vazquez, F. Ramos, R. Fernandez, I. Payo, F. Castillo

University of Castilla-La Mancha (SPAIN)
Robotics is a discipline widely used to teach science or engineering to secondary school students. Robots bring together different areas, such as electronics, mechanics and programming that are fundamental in Engineering. In this work we present a proposal of introducing engineering by means of wheeled mobile robots and humanoid robots which are usually used for professional research and not for teaching purposes. In fact, workshops and robot competitions with wheeled mobile robot kits (e.g. LEGO) are the most commonly used formats and they have shown their usefulness in motivating students over the past few decades. These kinds of robots allow students to work with mechanical and programming aspects related to engineering while control and stability problems are negligible due to their auto stability property. However, humanoid platforms force the students to focus on kinematics and stability problems related to the biped motion. Also, humanoid robots seem to be more appealing to last year secondary students than other robots, probably because students are used to coping with complex electronic devices these days (e.g. last generation mobile devices and video games consoles). In this communication, we present an innovative set of activities in order to make science and engineering more attractive to secondary students. This set includes workshops and competitions, based on both robotic platforms. We show that each kind of robot has its own advantages and they can be complementary used for teaching purposes