Vernie considers me with his icy blue yes, an orange eyebrow slightly cocked. Then, suddenly, he races forward and asks me my name. I shout it into the nearby tablet and we commence bonding. Okay, we don't so much bond as I command and Vernie, a new Lego robot, responds. SEE ALSO: This'Terminator 2' action figure would be greatest gift of all time Vernie is one of five models that children ages 7-to-12 can build and program with Lego's new Boost kit.
In an attempt to get robotics-minded kids more interested in life sciences--and vice versa--Stanford researchers have designed DIY robot kits for automating chemistry experiments. Using a Lego Mindstorms EV3 set and some plastic syringes, students can build robots that measure and transfer liquids, automating their their classroom laboratory assignments. Instructions for building the robot were published Tuesday in the journal PloS Biology. "What's key for me is that we merge robotics education--which is loved by kids and teachers--and life sciences education," says Ingmar Riedel-Kruse, a bioengineer at Stanford who led the project. And maybe it's more fun to engage in chemistry or biology experiments if you do it with a playful robot."
We have taught a number of artificial intelligence classes that include project work centred around the use of lego Mindstorms robots. These courses have been offered at three institutions that have quite different student populations, and all have been greeted enthusiastically by the students. This paper aims to share some of our experience, give pointers to material we are developing (and hope others will use), and describe some of our efforts to quantify the educational benefits of using robots in the classroom.
A simple vacuum-cleaner agent is introduced in Russell and Norvig's artificial intelligence (AI) text [Russell and Norvig, 2003] to illustrate different agent types to beginning AI students. Underlying the different agent types are several simple actions that take place in a vacuum cleaner world consisting of a grid of squares, some of which contain dirt. The agent's actions include turning left or right, moving forward, and picking up dirt. Having students write a program to simulate the vacuum world is a useful way to provide them with a feeling for different agent types in a simplified environment. However, implementing a vacuum-cleaner agent using a low-cost robotics kit might teach students much more about agents in the real world and could serve to get them interested in and excited about AI in a way that working with purely simulated environments may not. This paper describes the design and implementation of "Dustbot", a robot based on the Russell and Norvig vacuum-cleaner agent. The Dustbot project was carried out as part of an independent study by a student who had already taken the undergraduate AI course. The purpose of the project was to test and debug the vacuumcleaner robot and to develop a set of instructions that could be used in subsequent offerings of our undergraduate AI course.