Problem: RobotsLab fights the tedium and difficulty of lectures on abstract subjects such as Mathematics, Science, Engineering and Technology by bringing robotics to the classroom. Book-based theoretical classes on these subjects are usually difficult for students and many of them lose interest in these areas. The aim of RobotsLab is to transform teaching methods for these disciplines into an engaging and entertaining experience for students and teachers alike. This company is based in San Francisco, USA.
Solutions: The company sells several types of educational robotics programs. One of these is the NAO Evolution, which costs US$ 7,990 and has a humanoid form. In a creative and entertaining class, the robot helps to teach concepts of Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering for all levels. With the use of a robot, the students participate in hands-on experiences and connect theory with practice. They are able to program the robot for activities that interest them, such as teaching it how to dance or clap hands. They have contact with a large variety of areas associated with robotics, such as Computer Science, Mechanics, Electronics and Control. Examples of studies that can be conducted include holding objects and face detection. Standing 57 centimeters in height, the NAO robot has cameras, microphones, loudspeakers, sonar and pressure sensors, which allow it to speak, dance, play guessing games and interact. The robot is personalized and receives applications according to the needs of each school or user. For example, it can drive a child’s car under the command of the students. Teachers are trained in how to look after the robot. They learn how to hold it and are given tips about what not to do. They then teach the robot to walk and talk and include it in lesson plans. In Brazil, the robot has already been used in classes in the municipal network of Recife (PE). Teachers encourage interaction between the robot and children that still do not know how to read by using picture cards to indicate actions. Older students learn to control the robot using a computer, through visual programming software. The robot has also been used for scientific research related to computing and robotics in a number of Brazilian universities, including the following: the ICMC (Instituto de Ciências Matemáticas e de Computação/USP), the UnB (Universidade de Brasília), the Universidade Federal do Pampa and the UEA (Universidade do Estado do Amazonas).
Another product, known as the RobotsLab Box (US$ 3,999), is a combination that includes several types of robots for use in Science and Mathematics classes in schools. The combo robots can be controlled by the teacher through a tablet, which also contains exercises and lessons, and can be used to demonstrate abstract subjects, such as equations and vectors, among others.
Outcomes: Using this robot for educational purposes helps to prepare students for careers in the areas of Science, Technology and Engineering, which demand a mastery of Mathematics. It also inspires the students to be highly motivated and interested in careers in these areas. Other advantages include the encouragement of teamwork, project management, problem-solving, communication skills and engagement. Teachers can make learning easier, more practical and more effective. RobotsLab has already won several awards for innovation and excellence in the development of new products and services for educational purposes.