With the motivation of introducing robotics to public schools in Brasilia, promoting STEM careers, and raising awareness about robotics in general, project Edubot was developed by the IEEE RAS Universidade de Brasilia Student Chapter and funded by a IEEE RAS Chapter grant. The teaching platform used in this project is the Sparki robot kit1 from ArcBotics. The Sparki robot kit was chosen as a platform (instead of the more traditional LEGO Mindstorms) for three reasons: cost, education focus, and the fact that the Sparki robot is Arduino based. The Arduino component was more conducive to project Edubot’s goals since it is much less of a black box, and exposes students more to the details of programming, electronics, and robotics.
Project Edubot classes and programming activities are created by volunteer teachers and are based on a combination of ArcBotics Sparki tutorials, and the classes of professor Alexandre Zaghetto of University of Brasilia. Moreover, all the classes are available online in an open-source repository. This repository was made public in order to help other people interested in teaching robotics and also to facilitate feedback from the robotics community.
Future plans include creating a handout with lecture notes to help the students have a reference in their mother tongue, Portuguese. Besides serving as a reference, the aim of these handouts is to facilitate the students to follow the classes, since some of them do not have any prior experience in robotics and need to absorb a lot of new information.
The current structure of each class consists of ten lessons, with one hour-long lesson conducted each week. Each class is composed of three teachers and ten students. In total, thirty students have participated in the project. All of the students involved in the project said that they had fun in the classes and are more attracted to STEM careers and some of them even said that would like to try a career related to robotics. The volunteers teachers involved in the project also said that this project has been beneﬁcial to their careers. This project also beneﬁts the University of Brasilia since it attracts the attention of undergraduate students to the ﬁeld of robotics. Further objectives of this project include the expansion to more public schools and creating other courses related to robotics. Project Edubot updates can be found on the project Facebook page.