First International Symposium on
30th - 31st January 2004, Villa Nobel, Sanremo, Italy

Edutainment: Robotics for the Next Generation

Thomas Christaller
Fraunhofer Institute for Autonomous intelligent Systems - AiS
Schloss Birlinghoven
D-53754 Sankt Augustin
Phone: +49-2241-14-2678, Fax +49-2241-14-2384 or (forwarded by email) +49-2241 144 2677

Robots trigger an emotional reaction from humans. This is most obvious for children but it is also true for teenies and twens and even adults. Many products and much more literature and movies rely on this reaction. Despite of this at least in Germany we do suffer of a dramatic shortage of educated engineers.

Due to a study of the German VDI roughly 20,000 engineers per year are requested by the industry in addition to the 40,000 students leaving with a diploma in an engineering discipline. The question is: How can we change this situation? A closer analysis of the figures shows that the decision to study engineering is taken before students go to a university. And the faction of women is about 12%, a very low figure.

This was the basis of the project Roberta, partly funded by the German Federal Ministery on Research and Education. Roberta's target are the girls in high school, trying to make engineering attractive to them by using robots or being mroe precise: by using construction kits to build robots. After its first year the empirical findings which accompany the project are very positive and convincing: A significant higher number of girls could imagine to study computer science.

In my presentation I will give an overview of Roberta, its underlying didactic concept, insights to the lessons or projects delivered or conducted at several schools, and giving these intermediate findings about the effects of Roberta.

Draft 18th Jan '04