On Friday 25th and Saturday 26th of November 2016, the “Edurobotics” and “RoboESL” conferences were held in Athens. Of course, the ER4STEM project submitted some contributions – including a poster on the Hedgehog Light Robot Controller by PRIA.
The Edurobotics 2016 on Friday with its focus on “Educational Robotics in the makers era” was a particularly good fit for PRIA. With Hedgehog and projects such as 00siris, we have long used the capabilities of makerspaces for research, development and education. This time, the Hedgehog controller was presented at the conference’s poster session, of course including a live demonstration. The poster can be downloaded here.
The ER4STEM project made other contributions to Edurobotics 2016 as well. For our project Partner from Greece, the Educational Technology Lab of the University of Athens, Sofia Nikitopoulou presented her paper “Learning Programming with Educational Robotics: Towards an Integrated Approach”.
There were many other exciting contributions as well. Jacopo Tani of MIT presented Duckietown, a concept for university level Autonomous Vehicles courses. Nikolena Christofi of the National Technical University of Athens presented her “Orbital Robotics” projects, where an airhockey-table-like low-friction surface with robots floating above it is used – a new environment that allows for engaging demonstrations of basic physical concepts. There were also stimulating discussions with Meurig Beynon of the University of Warwick, whose invited talk kicked off the coference. He presented the programming model of “observables”, which is more similar to the behavior of physical reality than imperative programming, and thus easier for kids and beginning programmers to grasp.
On Saturday, the first conference of the RoboESL project (“Robotics-based learning interventions for preventing school failure and Early School Leaving”) shed light on a less observed aspect of Educational Robotics: while robotics is often used to promote STEM talents, its benefits – quick feedback on your own progress, and offering something for diverse interests through robotics’ many facets – make robots great tools for supporting children who are struggling with school. Before the main session, an exhibition allowed students from the Athens Area to present their projects – ranging from computer games and garbage separating robots to robotic hands and wearable, the showcases included everything!
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