Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hello Mr. Chips

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>From: Edutopia

"Rise of the Robots: Human-Machine Interaction Enhances Tech Teaching"

"Simpler to build, less expensive to buy, self-activating machines will become indispensable teaching tools.

Robots have long been the stuff of sci-fi movies, from the rabble-rousing fembot in Fritz Lang's classic silent film Metropolis to the maniacal micromanager HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey and the Teutonic Terminator (who came back from the future to become governor of California). Film robots have been fecklessly funny (C-3PO) and ferocious (those evil Star Trek Borgs), yet what they all had in common was that they were fictional.

That was then.

Now, bots are hot, they're real, and they're a growing part of secondary school curriculum. Sebastian Thrun, a professor of engineering at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, leads a team at the school that competes in the DARPA Urban Challenge, where highly sophisticated robot cars must handle simulated real-world traffic conditions. Thrun sees an increasing number of freshmen entering Stanford with head starts in robotics. "I find that there's an enormous awareness and fascination with regard to robotics in the incoming student population," he says.

This awareness may start early, as Web sites such as offer information on how parents (or teachers) and kids can build small robots. The rise of robotics now showing up in school science curricula, often starting at the elementary school level, can be credited to inventor Dean Kamen, who launched the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition in 1989, in which student-designed robots engage in a last-bot-standing battle royale. Now, more than 32,000 students on 1,500 high school teams from all over the world have competed, and the FIRST Lego League and Junior FIRST Lego League have brought robotics to kids ages 6-16..."
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