I was wondering while I was reading research articles on numerous (and much more complex) robots that appeared before to help these children, if any of you experienced gentlemen or ladies think that a LEGO robot could indeed help children to communicate better whilst sharing a LEGO robot.
More specifically I am building several types of robots which can move their arms, legs and head (very basic stuff) in order to get the children interested in the robot and with some luck break the social barrier that restricted them from interacting with other people.
Not heavily scientific stuff, I thought that most robots out on the market today are quite costly and not many facilities buy them (for the children) so I said that maybe I can build a LEGO robot which is cheaper (relative term), easier to build and manage and infinitely more configurable than the ones that are out on the market today.
I haven't taken the robot yet to see experienced personnel (doctors and psychologists) and, while I do intend to do so in the following days, I just wanted to know your honest opinions regarding this subject.
Do you believe LEGO robots can have a beneficial effect in a medically related environment?
2nd and 3rd grades. I did read with one child on the Autistic Spectrum.
I also build LEGO robots, as a hobby, and take my NXT robots into elementary grade classrooms.
They, the robots and I, have visited 23 classrooms so far this year. I demo the robots and then let the children
interact with the robots. I have the children pair up, so there are 2 kids sharing a robot as they interact with it.
I find that one will notice something about the robot and point it out to the other. One of the robots is a line
following car, that also has a color sensor and an ultrasonic sensor. The robot will say the color that the color sensor
sees. I found the kids were trying to put other objects under the color sensor, other than the colored stickers I
have, i.e. they were experimenting. And the kids liked to put their hand in front of the ultrasonic sensor
so the car then slows down or stops. The bigger hit are the turtle robots from an idea in the book "Creating
Cool Mindstorms NXT Robots" by Benedettelli. These turtles shake in fear if a hand is put quickly in front of
their face, or try to eat food from the hand if the hand is put slowly in front of the face. This expression of
emotion may work with your children. I have a color sensor on a another robot that communicates with the turtles
by Bluetooth. This robot with the color sensor can read colored name tags, communicates the name to the
turtle, who then says the name. This may catch the attention of your children. One difference from your
situation is the length of interaction time. In my classroom visit, the children get to interact with the robot for
10 - 20 minutes. Some kids seem to be losing interest after this time, while about 25% are still trying things,
asking questions, and would probably stay interested for hours. Maybe there are some ideas here that fit your
project. My opinion, for some children, interacting in pairs with LEGO robots, will encourage communication.
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