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Design and evaluation of a DIY construction system for educational robot kits

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Abstract
Building a robot from scratch in an educational context can be a challenging prospect. While a multitude of projects exist that simplify the electronics and software aspects of a robot, the same cannot be said for construction systems for robotics. In this paper, we present our efforts to create a low-cost do-it-yourself construction system for small robots. We have created three different construction systems (laser-cut screw connectors, printed friction-fit connectors, and printed hybrid connectors) using small aluminium T-slot extrusions, based on prior work done by Industrial Design college students. Eighty-six secondary school students and 35 teachers tested these three systems during a five-day robotics contest where they had to build firefighting robots. Follow-up questionnaires and an expert evaluation were used to measure the usability, affective appraisal and functionality of the three systems in order to determine which system should serve as a basis for further design iterations. Overall, a clear preference was shown for the hybrid system, which relies on its interlocking shape as well as on a screw connection to create robot frames that are both quick to construct and very rigid once assembled. We believe our work represents a solid first step toward an inexpensive, “hackable” construction system for educational robotics.
Keywords
3D printing, Construction system, Educational robotics, User experience, DIY, STEM

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Chicago
Vandevelde, Cesar, Francis wyffels, Cristina Ciocci, Bram Vanderborght, and Jelle Saldien. 2016. “Design and Evaluation of a DIY Construction System for Educational Robot Kits.” International Journal of Technology and Design Education 26 (4): 521–540.
APA
Vandevelde, C., wyffels, F., Ciocci, C., Vanderborght, B., & Saldien, J. (2016). Design and evaluation of a DIY construction system for educational robot kits. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY AND DESIGN EDUCATION, 26(4), 521–540.
Vancouver
1.
Vandevelde C, wyffels F, Ciocci C, Vanderborght B, Saldien J. Design and evaluation of a DIY construction system for educational robot kits. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY AND DESIGN EDUCATION. Springer Netherlands; 2016;26(4):521–40.
MLA
Vandevelde, Cesar, Francis wyffels, Cristina Ciocci, et al. “Design and Evaluation of a DIY Construction System for Educational Robot Kits.” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY AND DESIGN EDUCATION 26.4 (2016): 521–540. Print.
@article{6899382,
  abstract     = {Building a robot from scratch in an educational context can be a challenging prospect. While a multitude of projects exist that simplify the electronics and software aspects of a robot, the same cannot be said for construction systems for robotics. In this paper, we present our efforts to create a low-cost do-it-yourself construction system for small robots. We have created three different construction systems (laser-cut screw connectors, printed friction-fit connectors, and printed hybrid connectors) using small aluminium T-slot extrusions, based on prior work done by Industrial Design college students. Eighty-six secondary school students and 35 teachers tested these three systems during a five-day robotics contest where they had to build firefighting robots. Follow-up questionnaires and an expert evaluation were used to measure the usability, affective appraisal and functionality of the three systems in order to determine which system should serve as a basis for further design iterations. Overall, a clear preference was shown for the hybrid system, which relies on its interlocking shape as well as on a screw connection to create robot frames that are both quick to construct and very rigid once assembled. We believe our work represents a solid first step toward an inexpensive, {\textquotedblleft}hackable{\textquotedblright} construction system for educational robotics.},
  author       = {Vandevelde, Cesar and wyffels, Francis and Ciocci, Maria-Cristina and Vanderborght, Bram and Saldien, Jelle},
  issn         = {0957-7572},
  journal      = {INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY AND DESIGN EDUCATION},
  keyword      = {3D printing,Construction system,Educational robotics,User experience,DIY,STEM},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {521--540},
  publisher    = {Springer Netherlands},
  title        = {Design and evaluation of a DIY construction system for educational robot kits},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10798-015-9324-1},
  volume       = {26},
  year         = {2016},
}

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