Affective learning through physical computing : ArtBot


ArtBot is a flexible hardware programmable drawing machine/robot. It is designed to engage students in exploring the key concepts and qualities of computational processes without the intermediary of a computer.

Control over its procedural action is exclusively exposed through its tactile hardware interface. The challenge in its design consists of exploring how to abstract fundamental programmatic constructs as a hardware interface that is available for continuous and open augmentation and extension.

 

Research Question:

How do we create a pedagogical platform for creative technology that doesn’t rely on a system of ‘closed abstraction’? Is a system of ‘open abstraction’ the opposite and what might that look like in a programmable robotics project? Part of the challenge of teaching code is that so much needs to be learnt before a student can achieve a useful self-directed outcome. The idea for coding projects often lie outside the knowledge and skill set of learner programmers and developers. This is particularly true of younger students (age 5 to 10). In answer to this conundrum many programs build elaborate systems of closed abstraction – these might be described as ‘learning environments’ in which developers build ‘sandbox’ environments that use pseudo-code as a means of teaching programming concepts. Is it possible to build an alternative system of open-abstraction that allows students to immediately explore the potential of code and procedural instructions in interaction with the real world but which is open and extensible – indeed which encourages autonomous extension, adaptation and development that extends the platform itself.

This research project was born of a problem – How do we introduce the value and qualities and explore the potential of programmable machines to a student body without requiring them to immediately deal with the myriad details of programming syntax and structure. How can we introduce robotics in way that avoids taking production of a robot as an end in itself – that explores what both code and robotics might be actually be good for and therein provides affective impetus for hacking, augmenting and extending that platform.

Bibliography

Bachu, E. and Bernard, M., 2014, January. Visualizing Problem Solving in a Strategy Game for Teaching Programming. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Frontiers in Education: Computer Science and Computer Engineering (FECS) (p. 1). The Steering Committee of The World Congress in Computer Science, Computer Engineering and Applied Computing (WorldComp).

Brooks, Rodney A., Fast, Cheap and Out of Control: A Robot Invasion of the Solar System.  Journal of The British Interplanetary Society, Vol. 42, pp 478-485, 1989 (http://people.csail.mit.edu/brooks/papers/fast-cheap.pdf)

Douglas Blank, Deepak Kumar, Lisa Meeden, and Holly Yanco. 2003. Pyro: A python-based versatile programming environment for teaching robotics. J. Educ. Resour. Comput. 4, 3, Article 3 (December 2003). DOI=http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/1083310.1047569

Gemeinbock P,Saunders R.FCJ-120 Other Ways Of Knowing: Embodied Investigations of the Unstable, The Fibreculture Journal, 2011
http://eighteen.fibreculturejournal.org/2011/10/09/fcj-120-other-ways-of-knowing-embodied-investigations-of-the-unstable-slippery-and-incomplete/

Arto Vihavainen, Jonne Airaksinen, and Christopher Watson. 2014. A systematic review of approaches for teaching introductory programming and their influence on success. In Proceedings of the tenth annual conference on International computing education research (ICER ’14). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 19-26. DOI=http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2632320.2632349

Arto Vihavainen, Matti Paksula, and Matti Luukkainen. 2011. Extreme apprenticeship method in teaching programming for beginners. In Proceedings of the 42nd ACM technical symposium on Computer science education (SIGCSE ’11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 93-98. DOI=http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/1953163.1953196

Jackie O’Kelly and J. Paul Gibson. 2006. RoboCode & problem-based learning: a non-prescriptive approach to teaching programming. In Proceedings of the 11th annual SIGCSE conference on Innovation and technology in computer science education (ITICSE ’06). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 217-221. DOI=http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/1140124.1140182

O’Hanrahan, E., Artistic intuition meets technical ingenuity: the unique contribution to Digital Art History of 1960’s computer art pioneer, Desmond Paul Henry (1921-2004).Vancouver

Salvini, P., F. Cecchi, G. Macrì, S. Orofino, S. Coppedè, S. Sacchini, P. Guiggi, E. Spadoni, and P. Dario. “Teaching with Minirobots: The Local Educational Laboratory on Robotics.” In Advances in Autonomous Mini Robots: Proceedings of the 6-Th AMiRE Symposium, edited by Ulrich Rückert, Sitte Joaquin, and Werner Felix, 27–36. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2012. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27482-4_6.

Hámori, Á, J. Lengyel, and B. Reskó. “3DOF Drawing Robot Using LEGO-NXT.” In 2011 15th IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Engineering Systems (INES), 293–95, 2011. doi:10.1109/INES.2011.5954761.

Additional Resources:

http://dbynoe.blogspot.com.au/2013/12/four-cable-drawing-machine.html

http://www.desmondhenry.com

http://www.instructables.com/id/Low-Cost-Arduino-Compatible-Drawing-Robot/

 

A good page documenting all the gondola designs  for vertical pen potters:

 

http://makerblock.com/2013/03/a-study-of-drawing-robot-pen-holders-and-design-considerations/

And interesting Creative Robotics project from Petra Gemeinboeck and Rob Saunders;

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s ‘Tape Recorders’ (2011)

Not quite a robot – but maybe an artbot – worth querying what it means to define something as a robot – there seems to be something about indeterminacy and automation …. but beyond that a kind of autonomous projection in terms of both anticipation and space/time.

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