To celebrate UK Robotics Week 2018 at the end of June, we gave local primary and secondary school pupils the chance to experiment first-hand with a number of our robots.

The University of Hertfordshire’s Robotics Crash Course, designed to inspire children about the possibilities of a career in Computer Science and Robotics, was delivered at two local schools over the course of a week. The course covers all aspects of robotics, from how robots are designed (CAD design) and created (including 3D printing) to how they are programmed and the reasons for developing robots that have Artificial Intelligence.

Pupils interacting with the Pepper robot

Robots involved in the tutorials and hands-on sessions include Kaspar, a humanoid robot created to improve the lives of children with autism, Pepper, a humanoid robot designed to be a day-to-day companion, and Scampi, a robot that looks like a spider (with a couple of legs missing!).

Dr Luke Wood, Research Fellow in Human-Robot Interaction at the University of Hertfordshire said:

“We were delighted to be able to run these events, giving local school pupils the opportunity to programme and interact with our robots and to learn more about social robotics. The University of Hertfordshire is committed to education outreach, we want to insspire the next generation of computer scientists and make children see that Robotics is an accessible, exciting career.”

The events took place at Stanborough Secondary School, a specialist maths and computing academy in Welwyn Garden City, and Hatfield Community Free School, a large primary school in Hatfield.

At Stanborough School, university researchers guided A-level Computing students through how to programme the Pepper robot. Students gave Pepper customised emotions created and designed by themselves and learnt about the practical applications and challenges of programming state-of-the-art robots.

Sahbi Benzid, Curriculum Leader for IT & Computing at Stanborough School said:

“We are pleased that our students have had the opportunity to work with the University of Hertfordshire to explore the practical uses of robotics in our everyday lives. We hope it will inspire more students to go into STEM subjects in the future and go on to becoming pioneers in the growing field of robotics.”

At Hatfield Free Community School, the programme was focused on Years 3-5 (aged seven to ten). Students had the opportunity to programme Kaspar using Scratch, which is software designed to teach young people how to programme their own interactive games and animations. The students also had a lesson on CAD design using the 3D modeling software, Sketchup.

Dr Sue Attard, Principal at Hatfield Community Free School said: “We are honoured to have been selected to work with the University of Hertfordshire to understand the programming of social robots and have insight into the future technologies that will be valuable across the world in the lives of our present children.” For pictures of the event, see this article from the Welwyn Hatfield Times.

Meet the resident robots that can participate in research studies inside the Robot House, including the Care-O-bot 4.

Robot House has opened its doors to academia and industry in the UK and internationally. Find out how to access the facility.