The use of robotics as a tool for promoting education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) has grown over the last few decades as robotics building kits and programming environments have become available in the market place. Many districts now have afterschool robotics programs, at all grade levels, that provide students with an opportunity to engage in robotics engineering, as well as in competitions with other schools.
The availability of robotics education for many school-aged children is limited, unfortunately, due to the cost of the equipment. Often, when equipment does exist, the use of it is limited to a select group of students considered to be higher academic achievers who are able to benefit most from the interaction. Lower-cost approaches to robotics education are needed, therefore, to further realize the benefits of robotics education for a larger population of students, particularly those with special educational needs. The PaperBots project proposes to develop a lower-cost robotics kit for use by elementary and middle school students that is based on construction using paper, lower-cost hardware, and readily available tools.
The final deliverable of this proposal will be a low-cost robotics building kit. The kit will provide instructions for the manufacture and assembly of robots of increasing complexity made from commonly available school materials such as paper, brass fasteners, cardstock, straws, paperclips, glue, tape, etc. It also will include some less-common items such as motors, gears, battery packs, and other inexpensive robotic items that are not readily available in a classroom setting.
The development of a low-cost robotics kit has value worldwide, and the design team is looking at potentials for leveraging this product with students in developing countries, for example, to promote engineering education on a global scale. This concept is well suited to the mission and research activity of the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO).