A human-interactive robotic program for middle school STEM education

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



© 2017 IEEE. The use of human-interactive robots in industry and daily life has become more prevalent throughout society as more people are using collaborative, and assistive robots to accomplish a task. To demonstrate the utility and importance of assistive robots to middle school students, a unique educational platform called Neu-pulator (neurally-controlled manipulator) was designed and fabricated to introduce their application in improving the quality of life. This robotic manipulator consists of low-cost components, which reflect the characteristics of a human arm, and is actuated by signals from the students neuromuscular system. During summer 2016, a 5-day program introduced students to the engineering design process as they designed, programmed, manufactured, and tested the Neu-pulator robot. A series of surveys and group interviews were performed to understand how each students attitude and opinion towards different STEM-related topics evolved throughout the course, both quantitatively and qualitatively. We observed that the students confidence, attitude, and excitement towards STEM improved over the course of the week, especially when they could see the robot they developed in action. With the use of this unique educational platform, a bridge can be made from learning fundamental STEM concepts to real-world application of human interactive and assistive robots.

Publication Title

Proceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE