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Arbotics Workshop Provides New Tools to Engage Students

Summertime is a time to rest after a long school year. It's also a time to rejuvenate and breathe new life into your teaching by accessing professional development opportunities.

I had the opportunity to attend a two-day workshop offered by the University of Massachusetts in Lowell in June, called Artbotics. The idea behind Artbotics is to blend art and robotics, and in the process, promote computer science to students who otherwise might not see it as a relevant discipline.

The workshop was exciting, fun, and engaging. Using Cricket Logo and a SuperCricket device, we created interactive pieces of art that lit up and/or moved. The participants were varied - some folks taught art, others computer science. Middle school through university was represented. Everyone jumped right in, no matter what their background and creative and unique projects resulted. Even those people with little or no computer science background were able to write simple scripts that made their art come alive, showing me that this was a good way to make computer science more accessible to novices. It appeared as though people left motivated with ideas and ways to implement some of the ideas/curriculum into their programs.

I came away excited that I have another tool to engage my computer science students and to add relevance for them, especially my female students. In addition to teaching computer science, I teach art electives. Most of the students in my art electives are female. If I can hook one or two girls via this bridge between art and computer science, I will be happy.

For more information about Artbotics at UMass Lowell, see:

http://artbotics.cs.uml.edu/

Karen Lang
CSTA Board of Directors

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