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K-12 Curriculum and Robotics to Address the Workforce Shortage and Advancement of Computing
AuthorMiller, Blanca D.
Computer Science and Engineering
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Development and novel research contributions for computing and robotics technologies requires a workforce with mastery of computing. However, this goal is currently strained due to issues of education, access, and discernment of the problem space. The purpose of this master’s thesis work is to make contributions toward mitigating the workforce shortage and lack of diversification, aiding the advancement of technology, and democratizing robotics and computing. Two approaches are used to move toward addressing these issues, (1) development of instructional materials and content to teach K-12 students introductory concepts of computing and robotics and (2) a literary review of human-robot interaction (HRI). The lesson was implemented within K-12 classrooms and measured if students’ interest and attitudes toward engineering increased after participating in our lesson. Contributions from the lesson lie in offering foundational computing content and low cost materials to novice educators of computing and robotics that use tangible interfaces for students to concretely experience creating programs. Given our preliminary findings, these kinds of educational experiences may serve to stimulate students educational paths toward professions in computing and robotics. The contribution for HRI lie in delineating the key factors that constitute effective operation and integration of robots in everyday human environments, namely embodiment, situatedness, morphology, expressiveness, and communication as its absence has created ambiguity in research methodology, findings, next steps, and overall research validity. Lastly, we extend this discussion for the subfield of machine learning, which has become an increasingly critical tool in answering open scientific problems.