WowWee Robosapien V2 and Go-Robo Controller Bring Learning to Life in Nottingham, UKPosted by Peter Redmer on Monday, 12 May 2008
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.]