Lammer, L. (2016). Introducing young people to real-life problem-solving in multi-disciplinary teams with robotic product development [Dissertation, Technische Universität Wien]. reposiTUm. https://doi.org/10.34726/hss.2016.39545
E376 - Institut für Automatisierungs- und Regelungstechnik
Number of Pages:
educational robotics; constructionism; project-based learning; product development
Following the evidence on the positive connection between technological innovation and steady economic performance, many countries worldwide including the European Union are encouraging young people to engage in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields. Robots and robotics are excellent for teaching STEM. They are powerful constructionist tools that involve young learners in authentic problem-solving activities. Children easily connect robots to their personal interests and share their ideas through these tangible artefacts. Robots seem to have the ability to attract and inspire the imagination of students who are often unmotivated by conventional classroom curricula. Consequently, the field of educational robotics has gained increased importance and attention worldwide as an excellent teaching tool. However, the focus of most approaches being on teaching STEM and robotics, catching the enthusiasm of young learners who are not already interested in STEM proves to be difficult. In this work, we introduce the Crazy Robots concept that follows constructionist and design-based learning theories as well as interaction design methods that empower young people. The concept is based on product development with the use case robotics to introduce young people to real-life problem solving in multi-disciplinary teams. In this holistic top-down approach, children are encouraged to address problems from their lives as product developers by imagining solutions that incorporate an interactive technology like robots. They start with the needs of a target group that they know very well: themselves, other children at their age or their family. Then, step-by-step, they translate their imagined solutions into sketches, descriptions, models, and finally adapt them into working prototypes. Instead of specializing on engineering or science early on, curious learners are introduced to the holistic concept of product development focusing on finding solutions to people-s everyday problems in a creative way by imagining robotic solutions. At the same time, the importance of each individual talent and the immanent need for collaboration is lived by being responsible for a certain most compelling aspect of the product in a team with the common goal to -help someone with a problem-. Consequently, some children are attracted to technological fields, and some prefer social or humanistic fields. With a multiple-case study, we show that this concept addresses all young learners and introduces them to real-life problem solving and multi-disciplinary teamwork. The concept is a valuable tool for researchers, teachers, and workshop instructors to empower children, plant the seeds for conscious or critical technology users, and inspire interested children to pursue STEM careers or become innovators who tackle societal challenges of the 21st century.