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Title:An interactive toy robot: Learning through play
Author(s):Tang, Qiuyan
Advisor(s):Bullock, William
Department / Program:Art & Design
Discipline:Art and Design
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):educational toy
Abstract:The trend in school curriculums increasingly focuses heavily on math and science for younger children (5-11 years old). Unfortunately, the science of the ocean is lacking so although children may be curious about the ocean their knowledge of it is lacking. The Ocean is the heart of our planet and provides many benefits such as food, jobs, life, and recreation. Without it, life on Earth would not exist. While marine life is endangered by garbage and chemical waste people dump in the ocean, the public is not well informed about the severity of the problem. There is a need for more a comprehensive understanding about the ocean and its marine life among the public and particularly among school aged children. A greater understanding of the importance of the ocean and its marine life offers a number of benefits. With knowledge comes understanding and the opportunity to develop empathy and appreciation for other life forms. Knowledge can also empower future leaders to make positive changes in order to protect and use ocean resources wisely. There is probably no better substitute for being there when learning about the environment. While scientists are able to use sea robots to study and explore the ocean directly, most of us including children will never have this opportunity. So, finding other ways to educate and inspire children about the wonders of the ocean and the important role marine life plays in their lives is needed. Capturing children’s attention early, and continually nurturing their inherent scientific curiosity, is critical to achieving scientific literacy. Play is central to learning for children ages 3 through 11. Play provides the opportunity to explore the world, interact with others, express and control emotions, develop symbolic and problem-solving abilities, and practice emerging skills. Promoting children’s drive to learn, their ability to imagine alternatives, and to connect with their surroundings in positive ways is essential. The design of a robotic interaction toy to help children learn about the ocean offered a worthwhile and interesting thesis topic. In order to gain first-hand knowledge of this user group, I conducted Interviews with teachers and observed children’s behavior in the Child Development Laboratory in the College of ACES, Department of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. “CUBISH” is the name of my robotic toy and app design concept. It is a customizable toy that enables children ages 5-11 to design, invent and express themselves creatively. Four different sea-robots can be constructed using modular cubes and spherical connector elements. Imbedded technology and software and an App allow the constructed sea-robot to be played with virtually and on a computer screen. The child is able to manipulate the robot with a smart phone order to capture and learn about toy sea creatures. The toy if for children ages 5-11for use at home with parents or at preschool. As children mature at different rates, it is possible that children from age 3 could use the toy. However, I was concerned that the complexity of the toy was not suitable for younger children. The age appropriateness of the toy would be confirmed through subsequent user testing. This concept includes a virtual educational sea-creature capture game. The game can be played with the constructed robot and/or in a virtual ocean world with various environments and sea creatures on a tablet by using a digital immersive app. This allows the child to experience the wonders of the ocean environment and its marine life. Some evidence suggests that the dependence on technology has had a undue influence in the decline of creativity in children. The concern is that virtual environment applications by themselves do not provide an all-round creative experience due to the absence of working physically with their hands. The new educational toy Cubish addresses this issue by allowing children to learn through play in both the real (physical) world and the imagined (virtual) one. While direct experience in person may always provide the best learning experience, the wisdom through storytelling and imagined virtual learning may be the next best thing to being there. Research indicates that playful learning is an effective way for children to acquire new knowledge. Specifically, what the educational toy Cubish is designed to do. The key contents of this paper include RESEARCH SUMMARY: • Play is central to learning for children ages 3 through 11. • Knowledge about the ocean in this age group is lacking; school curriculums. • Focus heavily on math and science with little emphasis on ocean learning. Existing educational toys and games for children to play with to learn about the ocean are lacking. Robots offer a high potential to enhance a child’s creativity by learning through play • Encouraging play in order to learn about the ocean is an effective strategy. DESIGN SUMMARY: • Design of an educational toy that allows children to learn by playing with objects physically”+ digitally" was supported through research, analysis, observations and interviews. • Cubish, is an educational toy designed to help children learn about the ocean through play The goal of my design • Children will have fun playing as they learn about the ocean and its marine life; and as they grow to become informed citizens of the world my hope is that they will care about and recognize the importance of the health of our oceans and its marine life. • Furthermore, my hope is that they will realize the threat that marine life face and support the protection of marine life. PROPOTYPE A 3D prototype of the toy robot was fabricated in order to test the feasibility of the concept. The robot was able to move and although the software and apps are not fully functional, the prototype proved the feasibility of design and its manufacture. Additional fully functioning prototypes along with software would have to be made and the toy tested before it could be produced could be marketed. Initial indications are, however, that Cubish would be an effective educational children toy in helping children learn about oceans and its marine life.
Issue Date:2020-05-15
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Qiuyan Tang
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-08-26
Date Deposited:2020-05

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