The Personal Exploration Rover: Educational assessment of a robotic exhibit for informal learning venues
Robotics brings together learning across mechanism, computation and interaction using the compelling model of real-time interaction with physically instantiated intelligent devices. The project described here is the third stage of the Personal Rover Project, which aims to produce technology, curriculum and evaluation techniques for use with after-school, out-of-school and informal learning environments mediated by robotics. Our most recent work has resulted in the Personal Exploration Rover (PER), whose goal is to create and evaluate a robot interaction that will educate members of the general public in an informal learning environment and capitalize on the current enthusiasm and excitement produced by NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs). We have two specific goals of teaching about the role of rovers as tools for scientific exploration and teaching about the importance of robot autonomy. To this effect we have designed an interactive, robotic museum exhibit which has been deployed at five locations across the United States, including the San Francisco Exploratorium and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Here we introduce the robot hardware and software designed for this task and the exhibits developed, then detail the educational assessment methodology and results, which encompass exhibit impact on museum visitors at two installation sites.
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