Evolving the Usage of Lego Robots in CS1 to Facilitate High-Level Problem Solving

Andrew Ray


Java, Robotics, Introductory programming


The usage of robots in CS1 curriculums has a long history. From simple simulators to mini-languages, 3D environments, and physical devices, the variations of robots used in CS1 courses are astounding. At the heart of many of these attempts are two simple desires: (1) to provide an interesting tool that students want to use, and (2) to help students learn the course material. However, not all robot usage is beneficial. The benefits of using Lego robots have been called in question by several researchers. This paper identifies one plausible explanation of their ineffectiveness in CS1: the programming API. This paper presents the advantages and disadvantages of current and historical usage of robotic APIs, an improvement on typical APIs for Lego robots, along with and how it is used in the CS1 curriculum. The new approach for interfacing with robots allows for better problem solving capabilities, tighter integration with typical CS1 curriculums, and resolves some of the problems found in earlier research.

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