Infoscience

Conference paper

A two years informal learning experience using the Thymio robot

Technology is playing an increasing role in our society. Therefore it becomes important to educate the general public, and young generations in particular, about the most common technologies. In this context, robots are excellent education tools, for many reasons: (i) robots are fascinating and attract the attention of all population classes, (ii) because they move and react to their environment, robots are perceived as close to living beings, which make people attracted and attached to them, (iii) robots are multidisciplinary systems and can illustrate technological principles in electronics, mechanics, computer and communication sciences, and (iv) robots have many applications fields: medical, industrial, agricultural, safety ... While several robots exist on the market and are used for education, entertainment or both, none fits with the dream educational tool: promoting creativity and learning, entertaining, cheap and powerful. We addressed this goal by developing the Thymio robot and distributing it during workshops over two years. This paper describes the design principles of the robot, the educational context, and the analysis made with 65 parents after two years of use. We conclude the paper by outlining the specifications of a new form of educational robot.

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