Computer Science Outreach with End-User Robot-Programming Tools

V. Paramasivam, J. Huang, S. Elliott, and M. Cakmak, “Computer Science Outreach with End-User Robot-Programming Tools,” 2017.


Robots are becoming popular in Computer Science outreach to K-12 students. Easy-to-program toy robots already exist as commercial educational products. These toys take advantage of the increased interest and engagement resulting from the ability to write code that makes a robot physically move. However, toy robots do not demonstrate the potential of robots to carry out useful everyday tasks. On the other hand, functional robots are often difficult to program even for professional software developers or roboticists. In this work, we apply end-user programming tools for functional robots to the Computer Science outreach context. This experience report describes two offerings of a week-long introductory workshop in which students with various disabilities learned to program a Clearpath Turtlebot, capable of delivering items, interacting with people via touchscreen, and autonomously navigating its environment. We found that the robot and the end-user programming tool that we developed in previous work were successful in provoking interest in Computer Science among both groups of students and in establishing confidence among students that programming is both accessible and interesting. We present key observations from the workshops, lessons learned, and suggestions for readers interested in employing a similar approach.

BibTeX Entry

  title = {Computer Science Outreach with End-User Robot-Programming Tools},
  author = {Paramasivam, Vivek and Huang, Justin and Elliott, Sarah and Cakmak, Maya},
  year = {2017},
  booktitle = {ACM Technical Symposium on Computing Science Education (SIGCSE)},
  type = {conference}