The RAD Lab frequently hosts workshops for K-12 aged students to engender excitement and empower learning about robotics. These workshops are often students' first encounters with robots where our goal is to give participants creative experiences with the devices. We create activities that use embodied observation, imagined narrative, and choreography as novel inroads to understanding principles about programming, mechanical design, and robotics. The usage of embodied observation, whereby participants moved their own bodies to understand the movement of robots, imagined narrative, whereby participants used their own creativity to ascribe or describe the potential behavior and applications of robots, and choreography, whereby participants made choices about movement during the engagement, distinguish our approach. These themes are a departure from typical presentations that highlight specific elements and capabilities – functions – of robots, which are often presented inside the frame of measures whereby machines outperform humans: forces, torques, velocities, precision, and repeatability. Instead, we use an expressive frame for providing participants experiences with robots, empowering them to notice some of the short comings of robots: simplistic anatomy, brittle inflexibility and rigidity, and rote repetitive action.
For example, a common workflow for a half-day workshop is: 1) create a movement phrase; practice the phrase so that it is committed to memory; 2) name the components of the phrase and write a description of each (with sentences); 3) name these components in the LBMS taxonomy, drawing corresponding symbols; 4) map these movements to the lower-dimensional machine – the robot – provided; 5) translate to a finite state machine that records designed changes in robot configuration; and 6) write down a story of how this behavior would be used in day-to-day life.