Integrating robotics into schools

Children at school

An SNSF funded partnership between a research institute, an association and a university of teacher education involving children, researchers and robots.

Bringing university research into the classroom: the Thymio in School (Thool) project, headed by the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in collaboration with the association Mobysa and supported by the Vaud University of Teacher Education, was developed to do just that. The programme, set up by Francesco Mondada from the EPFL, was broken down into three phases: lessons for primary and secondary school teachers at the university of teacher education; classroom activities carried out with Thymio, a small cubic robot developed by the EPFL's Laboratoire de Systèmes Robotiques; and video conferences with researchers.

In one activity, six-year-old pupils control Thymio robots to move geometric objects. The aim is to create a link with the curriculum (familiarisation with shapes and colours) as well as with research currently conducted at the EPFL on industrial robots. The video conference organised at the end shows children real-life images of researchers in their everyday work. The project was completed in April 2016 and has received additional SNSF Agora funding to develop new partnerships on a national level.

The Agora scheme of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) provides funding for science communication projects that build bridges between research and the general public.