Grounding Abstract Concepts Through Robotic Manipulatives - The Robotics Institute Carnegie Mellon University
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Grounding Abstract Concepts Through Robotic Manipulatives

Master's Thesis, Tech. Report, CMU-RI-TR-20-18, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, May, 2020
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Technology in education has been on the rise for a long time, developing from computer manipulatives to mobile apps and finally into robotics. Robotics has the unique affordances of the classic physical manipulatives and virtual manipulative, providing both a physical aspect along with computing power for immediate feedback and response. In this work, we aim to explore robotics as a way to combine affordances of pre-existing manipulatives for primary education. Two systems were designed and created: MindfulNest and Owlet. MindfulNest, geared towards teaching children from 3-5 social and emotional development, was tested in a series of classrooms. Owlet, geared at supporting elementary math skills, was also tested in at least one classroom per grade (K-5th). Through these tests, the systems showed potential not only to teach their intended concepts, but also to introduce students to the basics of robotics. The systems and testing also revealed an interesting relationship between the intuitiveness of the devices and the amount that students explored the technology.


author = {Samantha Speer},
title = {Grounding Abstract Concepts Through Robotic Manipulatives},
year = {2020},
month = {May},
school = {Carnegie Mellon University},
address = {Pittsburgh, PA},
number = {CMU-RI-TR-20-18},
keywords = {Robotics, Education, Early Education, Elementary, Manipulatives, Robotic Tangible Devices},