Mon. Sep 25th, 2023
    Global Center for Equitable Computer Science Education Develops Low-Cost, Open-Source Robot for Schools

    The Global Center for Equitable Computer Science Education has developed a low-cost, open-source robot aimed at bringing computer science education to rural and low-income communities. The center, a collaboration between various entities including the University of Virginia, the School of Data Science, and Universidad del Norte, aims to integrate computer science into pre-K, elementary, middle, and high schools.

    Traditional tools for introducing computer science to students often require expensive equipment and reliable Wi-Fi, making them inaccessible to many under-resourced schools. To address this issue, the center designed a low-cost robot that is adaptable for multiple grade levels. The team hopes that by lowering the price and expanding the robot’s functionality, it will become more accessible to rural and low-income communities.

    The robot is built around the “micro:bit,” a computing device specifically developed for K-12 educational settings. It can be programmed in multiple ways and offers increasing complexity as students progress. The current version of the robot can be built for $25, excluding the micro:bit. All project designs will be freely available to the community through GitHub, an online software platform.

    The robot’s design is not only functional but also customizable. It is compatible with Lego bricks and can be decorated with materials already in classrooms, allowing students to add their creative touches.

    The next phase of the project involves testing the robots with teachers and students. A batch of fifty robot parts was taken to Colombia, where fifteen teachers will assemble and use them. By observing how children learn and supporting teachers in integrating computer science into their classrooms, the center aims to understand the impact of computing concepts on general cognitive skills related to STEM success.

    In addition to the development of the robot, the center is also engaged in a large-scale professional development effort for teachers in Southwest Virginia and ten Latin American countries. The goal is to expand computer science research and support under-resourced areas by understanding the different strengths and assets that different contexts bring to computing.

    Overall, the Global Center for Equitable Computer Science Education is taking steps to bridge the gap in computer science education and provide affordable resources that empower students and teachers in underprivileged communities.

    – The source article