EC Roberta Project
"The Initiative "Roberta - Learning with Robots"
The idea that girls are not interested in science and technology is a popular misconception. For the past five years, European school girls have been working with robots in "Roberta courses".
Roberta is an educational project launched by the Fraunhofer Institute IAIS in Bonn, Germany. It addresses the lack of engineers by raising girls' and boys' interest in the technical professions. The successful concept of the German project "Roberta" has been adapted in the EU-funded project "Roberta goes EU" to investigate its usability and explore opportunities for its dissemination to other European countries. With the use of standardized robotics kits, Roberta allows a hands-on introduction to technology.
In a special learning environment children can try out their ideas for themselves under advice and coaching of certified Roberta course instructors.Robots are an ideal educational tool for a hands-on introduction to technology. By designing, constructing, programming and testing mobile robots, children learn the basic concepts of today’s technical systems. In a playful approach, they learn to handle sensors, motors, programs and a graphical software development environment. These are the main technical topics of Roberta courses. In addition, they learn that constructing technical systems is a creative process that is not easy but strengthens their self-confidence in their own technical skills. This helps them to gain knowledge in ICT, electrical engineering, mechanics and robotics.
Constructing and using robots is an ideal tool to communicate knowledge that is important for understanding technical problems, but also philosophical questions, such as those concerning intelligence and autonomy of artificial systems. A further major element of Roberta courses is teamwork. A group of two to three children commonly work on their robot. This develops their teamworking skills.
The attractiveness of Roberta courses helps to overcome inhibitions, because the playful approach reduces skepticism. In addition, children become fascinated by robot development, which encourages their interest in technical subjects and motivates them to learn more.
Robotics courses which are especially designed to be interesting to girls, but are also popular with boys. Roberta courses are conducted only by trained Roberta course instructors.Training for teachers (and others) who would like to offer Roberta courses. They become certified Roberta course instructors.
Teaching and learning materials that are included in the Roberta series, to be used by trained Roberta course instructors. The materials include, in particular, didactic advice for gender-sensitive teaching during robot courses. This is a main focus of the Roberta initiative.A European network of regional centres. A local regional centre provides training for Roberta course instructors and supports them by loaning robot construction kits to schools in their vicinity". (From Roberta's official site).
Since February 2008 the School of Robotics is Roberta Regional Center.
Acting as Roberta RegioCenter, we have contributed to the organizing of many Roberta courses all over Italy. Just to mention some of them: In Gambolò, Pavia; In Piacenza, at ISII Marconi; In Pinerolo, the Elementary school.