WowWee Robosapien V2 and Go-Robo Controller Bring Learning to Life in Nottingham, UK

At the Nottingham e-Learning Centre, Janet Simner has been introducing a group of year 8 pupils to a 60cm tall programmable humanoid robot called Robosapien V2.

Shortlisted for the ‘Primary & Secondary Hardware’ category of the 2008 BETT Awards is a rather intimidating humanoid robot called Robosapien V2. Intimidating for the teacher, that is; for the pupils it is pure engagement, fun and excitement that contains a wealth of opportunities for learning about systems, control and programming.

The RSV2’s (as the robot’s nicknamed) provides an opportunity for learning about programming without using a computer. It contains a wealth of sensors, motors and pre-programmed actions and reactions that have a huge potential for lessons, though it’s necessary to take a while playing with the robot and working through the resources and User Guide before introducing it to the pupils. The robot has a very wide range of actions, functions and programmed responses that take a while to master. [Click image to view entire image gallery!]

The centre had eight RSV2’s shared between sixteen mixed ability pupils in a double-size classroom. Eight RSV2’s in a line at the front of the class is an impressive sight and from the start the pupils’ attention was well-focused on the task in hand: learning to program a robot (that answers back!). What I particularly liked was that the lesson got going very quickly, since there’s no need to build the first, as with LEGO. After a brief discussion and demonstration, the pupils were in their pairs and devising ‘puppet’ programs to teach their robot a 20-step movement sequence.

As well as this ‘copy-cat’ programming, the pupils explored programming using the handheld remote controller. This was great fun, as they needed to explore the robot’s built-in functions and responses - some of which raised a few eyebrows, to say the least. Again, the task was to program a 20-command sequence of actions and movements. They quickly discovered this was really difficult to do without writing down their commands in a systematic and organised way, which provided an excellent example of formal programming. In the following lesson, they created ‘guard’ programs that were triggered by a sound or a movement, which were incorporated as sub-routines in a main program.

As well as learning about programming, the pupils spent time working with the sensors and learning some terminology. They discovered the robot has a multitude of sensors for identifying movement, sound, infra-red, colour, grip and tilt-angle. These provided opportunities for exploring ‘feedback’ and identifying ‘inputs’, ‘processes’ and ‘outputs’ through playing games with the robot and his bowling pins and ball.

In exploring the Robosapien V2, pupils were able to understand an integrated systems, control and programming in a fun and engaging way.

[Editor's Note: I really wish I had access to this technology when I was in school - all I had was my vocabulary book and an Apple ][ with Oregon Trail in the library.   No matter what, it looks like they had a great time with Robosapien V2. This functionality for students is made possible by the Go-Robo controller, that enables students to download and create programs for the Robosapien V2. It's great to see that WowWee bots can be used for education as well as for fun - both at the same time, actually! This article has been reproduced here with the permission of Q4 Technologies.]


Quick Links:

Learn More About the Go-Robo Controller by Q4 Technologies

Learn More About Robosapien V2 at RoboCommunity


GWJax's picture

Your right Commander Pete, I too wish that we had these robots when in school. Some times I wish I was youg again but still have the background that I have now. This time of age is a great time and I hope the younger members and younger kids all over the earth takes an intrest in robotics and in a few years you never know what will be out there.

Peter Redmer's picture

I hope so too. The great thing about this type of learning is that is fosters logic and problem solving. You have a goal in mind - i.e., I want RSV2 to do this specific thing, now figure it out! That kind of skill is valuable for kids to develop, and the RSV2 makes it fun, right?

I remember doing BASIC programming as a kid, and mentally going through the same process. I created "Choose Your Own Adventure" BASIC games. I had a vision for what I wanted to do, then relied on magazines and books to figure out how to get there. And of course, it was fun. I'm not a programmer now or anything, but developing that line of thinking and approach to problem solving has been very valuable to me!

GWJax's picture

Yes I too created a program writen in GWBasic in high school for a fund raiser, I made a program for dating, you would have 50 questions to answer and then the program would find the person that you would have the closest answers to. It was such a big hit that the teachers would join in as well. We made $3000.00 + per year with the program and I ran it for 3 yrs after that the high school wanted the program but since they would not give me any money for it I refused to give it to them and the funny this is I still have it on 5 1/4 floppies with 3 years of data on them, but I have no access to an old Tandy 1000 computer to retreive it :(

Peter Redmer's picture

That's crazy! I would think that it would have offered some value to them. One way or another, you still have it :) I'm sure you could find an old Tandy to bring the program back to life... eBay or garage sales!

GWJax's picture

ya, I look from time to time, I still have the Tandy 1400HD laptop that still works but no 5 1/4" floppy drive that I can attach to it. If I ever get it out of the disk I'll share it with all of you. It's quite involved and neat to look at the code. Oh by the way the program was written back in the early 80's just so other members know how old it is. hehe

robodud's picture

that is allot of v2s