Armstrong Leads Summer Robotics Initiative

(July 5, 2011) Armstrong Atlantic State University, in collaboration with four area schools, is conducting a summer initiative to give middle and high school students an opportunity to learn about robotics and computer programming. The project, an extension of a $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant received by Armstrong in 2007, involves Bartlett and Coastal middle schools, Savannah Arts Academy and Islands High School.

The project will allow more than 50 students to learn about robotics and the basics of computer programming using educational programmable robots by Lego Mindstorms, Scribbler and Intellibrain. The university has used these same tools in the past to introduce students in its Honors Program to programming concepts.

Armstrong faculty members in the College of Science and Technology and the College of Education will work with schoolteachers to introduce students to robotics and programming. The university will provide laptops, robots and training and host two weeklong robotics workshops on campus in late July and early August.

Participating students will return to their classrooms in the fall and establish robotics clubs at their schools to pass on their new knowledge and get other students interested in robotics and programming. As in Ossabest, the summer project is designed to attract more school children to careers in the STEM (science, technology engineering and mathematics) fields.

“This project is being done in the mindset of introducing teachers and students in our schools to more advance computing and technology concepts,” said Ashraf Saad, associate professor of computer science and one of the principal investigators of the OssaBest grant that brought 120 students and 90 teachers in Savannah-Chatham schools to Ossabaw Island to learn about information technology and computer science. Students worked with sensors and a weather station to develop a multimedia, Web-based guide to the island. In addition to Saad, Armstrong faculty members Joy Reed (computer science), Lei He (information technology) and Edward Strauser (adolescent and secondary education) were co-principal investigators of the Ossabest grant.