Social Robot Toolkit: Tangible Programming for Young Children.

Gordon, M., Ackermann, E., Breazeal, C.


Teaching children how to program has gained broad interest in the last decade. Approaches range from visual programming languages, tangible programming, as well as programmable robots. We present a novel social robot toolkit that extends common approaches along three dimensions. (i) We propose a tangible programming approach that is suitable for young children with reusable vinyl stickers to represent rules for the robot to perform. (ii) We make use of social robots that are designed to interact directly with children. (iii) We focus the programming tasks and activities around social interaction. In other words, children teach an expressive relational robot how to socially interact by showing it a tangible sticker rulebook that they create. To explore various activities and interactions, we teleoperated the robot's sensors. We present qualitative analysis of children's engagement in and uses of the social robot toolkit and show that they learn to create new rules, explore complex computational concepts, and internalize the mechanism with which robots can be programmed.

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