Robots teaching girls to like science and technology

Robots teaching girls to like science and technology

28th May 2008, Comments 0 comments

Usually discouraged by the image of aggressive and violent robots, girls are being drawn to science and technology using new tactics

A new generation of robots is teaching school girls to enjoy learning science and technology the way boys do, according to a team of German researchers.

Girls are turned off by the "transformer" style warrior robots which encourage boys to go into the male-dominated field of robotics.

So five years ago, the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems in Sankt Augustin, Germany, initiated the "Roberta-Girls Discover Robots" project, which has already had great success. Girls have shown a great deal of enthusiasm for the project.

"Our experience with children in robot courses has shown that girls are not interested in programming armoured vehicles, combat or football robots," said project manager Gabriele Thiedig.


A different approach

Instead, Roberta course participants programme their robots to dance or to organise a rescue operation.

The result is that there are Roberta centres operating in six different countries.

The Roberta development team has also produced a series of teaching and learning materials. Without much effort, teachers can use these materials to conduct robot courses in a way that is interesting to girls.

There are currently 22 regional Roberta centres in Germany, where interested school groups and their teachers can get information about courses from experienced instructors.
One such course is the "Smart Girls" initiative. By allowing girls to gain experience with robotics, the initiative aims to spark high school girls' interest in technical trades and university programmes.

Roberta is already well-known across Germany, and further regional centres are to be set up, as a European dimension begins to take shape.

In all, 12 regional centres have already opened in Britain, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and Italy, and organizers hope that more will be added soon.

Expatica with DPA 

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