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  1. Akos Ledeczi
  2. http://www.isis.vanderbilt.edu/akos
  3. Professor
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Vanderbilt University
  1. Hamid Zare
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/hamidzare/
  3. Graduate Research Assistant
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Vanderbilt University

NetsBlox

NSF Awards: 1644848

2019 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12

The video presents RoboScape, a collaborative, networked robotics environment that makes key ideas in computer science accessible to groups of learners in informal learning spaces and K-12 classrooms. RoboScape is built on top of NetsBlox, an open-source, networked, visual programming environment based on Snap! that is specifically designed to introduce students to distributed computation and computer networking. RoboScape provides a twist on the state of the art of robotics learning platforms. First, a user’s program controlling the robot runs in the browser and not on the robot. There is no need to download the program to the robot and hence, development and debugging become much easier. Second, the wireless communication between a student’s program and the robot can be overheard by the programs of the other students. This makes cybersecurity an immediate need that students realize and can work to address. We have designed and delivered a summer camp that teaches cybersecurity in a hands on manner. Students have to program their robots to solve various challenge problems while defending them against various cyber-attacks the other students mount. Our pilot studies showed significant learning gains and very high levels of engagement. 

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Original Discussion from the 2019 STEM for All Video Showcase
  • Icon for: Akos Ledeczi

    Akos Ledeczi

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 12, 2019 | 11:10 p.m.

    We hope you enjoyed this short introduction to our approach to teaching cybersecurity with wireless robots and NetsBlox.  For more information, visit the NetsBlox web page where you can find additional videos, documentation and many sample projects. More information about the cybercamp can be found here.

    Please, provide us feedback so we can improve the tools and curriculum. Thank you.

    Akos Ledeczi

  • Icon for: Abby Funabiki

    Abby Funabiki

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 12:07 p.m.

    How nice that the students can use a platform (Snap!) they are already familiar with in a new way (with robots!). Who taught these classes, your team or teachers at the school?

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Jared O'Leary
  • Icon for: Akos Ledeczi

    Akos Ledeczi

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 13, 2019 | 12:11 p.m.

    Thanks. These camps were taught by us, but we have also had some PD activities. In June, we'll have 12 high school teachers from the area do a week-long teacher camp with the goal of taking it back to their schools next year.

     
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    Abby Funabiki
  • May 13, 2019 | 02:02 p.m.

    Nothing like a live demonstration of open channel communications to illustrate why encryption is needed! 

    Were the high school students in your camps all already familiar with Snap! and/or NetsBlox, or were they new to programming concepts? Did students work in teams or individually?

    Could the NICERC Boe-Bot be used (https://www.parallax.com/product/81031)?  And for the "functional internet" that is required, is a cell phone hotspot or similar a viable option?

  • Icon for: Akos Ledeczi

    Akos Ledeczi

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 13, 2019 | 06:15 p.m.

    Excellent questions! We could not assume any programming background, so we started from scratch (no pun intended). That means that we had students with a wide variety of backgrounds. We put them in teams of two, gave each team one robot and asked them to use the collaboration feature of NetsBlox which basically works like Google Docs. This worked out very well.

    I am not sure about the Boe-Bot (does it have WiFi?), but any robot with a WiFi connection should work. Of course, our command interpreter C program (open source) would need to be ported over to any new platform. We have just added Anki Vektor support just in time for them to go out of business :(

    Any time I give a demo off site, I use my phone as a hot spot. In fact, if you do not need the regular NetsBlox services such as Google Maps, USGS, Open Movie Database, MS Translator etc., you do not even need internet access just a LAN. In that case, you need to run the NetsBlox server locally.

     
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    Jared O'Leary
  • Icon for: Jared O'Leary

    Jared O'Leary

    Researcher
    May 16, 2019 | 02:31 p.m.

    The collaboration feature that works like Google Docs would have been a game-changing feature in Scratch when I was working in K-8 classrooms. There were many groups of kids who wanted to do more than just paired programming on the same computer when collaborating on a project, and this feature sounds exactly like what they were asking for.

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Abby Funabiki
  • May 14, 2019 | 01:52 p.m.

    Great to see this use of NetsBlox! So many rich possibilities! Curious to know what research you did around this camp - what sort of things you measured and what you found. Thanks!

  • Icon for: Akos Ledeczi

    Akos Ledeczi

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 14, 2019 | 02:05 p.m.

    Thanks, Shuchi. We did pre and post tests with CT, computer networking and cybersecurity related questions. In each of the categories, the improvement was about 20 percentage points with p-scores around 0.001. These were self selected, motivated students, so we will need to make a larger scale study to see how the results generalize/scale up.

     
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    Shuchi Grover
  • Icon for: Quinn Burke

    Quinn Burke

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 05:22 p.m.

    Very interesting presentation!  Akos, in the final frame, Tina McAfee mentions a potential future PD workshop geared toward teachers - ideas about grade level of such instructors?  Would you recruit teachers from certain subject matters or make it open to a wide range?

     
  • Icon for: Akos Ledeczi

    Akos Ledeczi

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 14, 2019 | 07:09 p.m.

    We will have our first PD on this in a couple of weeks. We have recruited high schools teachers but we also have a couple of middle school teachers signed up. We recommended having some programming background. We did not differentiate based on their subject. I am anxious to see how well it'll go.

     
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    Quinn Burke
  • Icon for: Lisa Miller

    Lisa Miller

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 07:22 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing your video!  Teaching cybersecurity by using networked robots is an interesting and fun approach. Have you been able to measure the impact the camp has had on the students who participated in terms of their interest in taking more CS classes, studying CS in college, pursuing a career in cybersecurity or other measures?

  • Icon for: Akos Ledeczi

    Akos Ledeczi

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 14, 2019 | 08:35 p.m.

    We implemented a prepost survey targeting students' self efficacy in programming, attitudes towards technology, and task values placed upon robotics and cybersecurity to evaluate student attitudes toward the curriculum content and their abilities. Students expressed improvement in two sections of the motivational survey, showing that they feel more comfortable in completing programming tasks related to robotics and cybersecurity while also appreciating the value of technology. While there was some amount of improvement in the value students place on robotics, cybersecurity, and programming tasks, it was not enough to be significant. The main issue here seems to be that students already valued those areas highly, so there was not as much room for improvement as in the other areas.

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Lisa Miller
  • May 19, 2019 | 07:40 p.m.

    It's rewarding to see how your project is building the use of robotics for hands-on activities and STEM education.  Certainly the application of Cybersecurity to this dynamic and growing area is a wise choice. I wish you much success with your teacher training camps this summer. I am interested to hear more about how the students are integrating security.  Perhaps we could collaborate on adding an Incident Response/ Digital Forensics Component in future work.

  • Icon for: Akos Ledeczi

    Akos Ledeczi

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 20, 2019 | 09:08 a.m.

    Thanks, Daryl. Adding Digital Forensics is a great idea. I like your project/video as well. I'd be interested in collaborating.

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