Artbotics with Arduino: bringing Art and Robotics together

Artbotics is an educational project that has been developed at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. It is supported by the National Science Foundation (CNS-0540564 and CNS-0837739), as a part of the Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance and the Broadening Participation in Computing program.

The program has been active for about 9 years in various capacities (semester long after school, high school or college classes, multiple day workshops for middle school students, 1-day or shorter workshops for educators). The goal of it is to introduce students to art, computer science, and robotics, by creating interactive, kinetic sculptures. The program is concentrated on many social issues, including increase of the participation of women and minorities in computing through the use of innovative and interactive technologies, broadening student understanding of the field of computing, building community with mentoring opportunities for students.

Art project made with Arduino
 
Wall art project made with Arduino

Interactive sculpture using an Arduino board

A set of materials and approaches that is used during educational process, can be adapted to any curriculum. The program has no age limitations, students from middle, high school and college can benefit from it. This community context dispels the notion of the asocial programmer, and provides positive, realistic experiences in teamwork, design, and programming. Students learn that computing can be used in a variety of ways as a part of many disciplines, using different technologies such as the Super Cricket, Lego Mindstorms, and Arduino.

There are a couple of the most interesting Arduino curriculums used at UMass Lowell: 

·       Artbotics Arduino C++ IDE Curriculum

(Guides, handouts, and presentations for implementing the Artbotics Arduino curriculum using the basic C++ IDE. There are five main activities: Driving and Drawing, Reacting to Sensors, Exploring Mechanisms, Servos, and Building an Interactive, Kinetic Sculpture. There is also a link for the Artbotics Arduino library.)

·       Artbotics Ardublock Curriculum

(Same as the previous one, but using Ardublock. There are also links for the Artbotics Arduino library and version of Ardublock, due to some custom blocks created.)

Art sculpture made with Arduino

Art sculpture 2 made with Arduino

In conclusion, Artbotics represents the essence of Arduino – accessible for everybody technology that can be applied to any project (artistic, musical, scientific, etc.).  Moreover, the program serves social and community purposes, allowing kids from all backgrounds learn and create. 
 
Interactive scultpure made with Arduino
Interactive sculpture 2 made with Arduino

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