Abstract: The purpose of this project, supervised by Prof. J. Beer, was to show that the use of Nao humanoid robots as individualized math tutors in rural, elementary classrooms is feasible. It is believed that robots may provide cost-effective means for differential or individualized supplemental math instruction in the classroom without diverting the attention of the classroom instructor away from the rest of the class. In order to show the use of Nao robots in the classroom is feasible, we programmed Nao robots to ask and explain fifth grade math questions according to the Common Core Standards and conducted a user study with fifth graders from an area in rural South Carolina. This work showed with statistical significance that the fifth grade students preferred working with the Nao robot to any other math curriculum support, including peers, teachers, and computer programs. Similar methodologies are now being used to determine the feasibility of Nao Robots as music therapy assistants.
Story of Contribution: My contributions to this project included conducting a literature review and programming the Nao robots. I found literature related to the assistive applications of robots to children and analyzed the literature in order to show that it was worth exploring the use of humanoid robots as individualized tutors in a rural classroom setting. I programmed the Nao robots using C++ with algorithms that allowed each robot to respond to students’ individual math needs.
Lessons Learned: Through this project I learned how to find and read relevant academic papers critically and ask questions based on the findings of others. I gained technical skills by programming the Nao robots in C++. By conducting user studies I learned about creating effective surveys and interacting with human participants, especially children and older adults.