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Roberta: girls discover robots

Roberta is a project conceived in 2002 by the Fraunhofer Institute IAIS (Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems) in Bonn in response to the shortage of girls enrolled in courses of study in technical-scientific fields. The shortage of women ICT practitioners in Europe is indicated by the fact that in Germany, the most technologically developed country in Europe, only 50,000 out of 310,000 techno-scientifically oriented students were girls in 2005.

In 2002 Fraunhofer, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the LEGO Educational Division, the Ministry of Equal Opportunities and the Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Germany funded the project, called “Roberta, girls discover robots”, which aimed to promote the interest of girls in science, technology and ICT through Educational Robotics. In schools of all levels, starting also from primary schools, girls and boys, in teams initially separated and then mixed, assemble and program robot kits.

The project concerns the age group corresponding to our secondary schools and provides programming and design courses to assemble and operate simple robots.

After seven years of Roberta’s experimentation, also in Europe, it can be affirmed that these didactic technologies, combined with a methodology studied in particular to bring girls closer, represent an extraordinary didactic tool for the learning of science, for the development of various skills and for the promotion of group work among girls and boys.

Within Roberta, robotic kits have been experimented, particularly oriented to environmental discovery and intervention, in order to leverage the interest and sensitivity of girls towards environmental issues and social solidarity.

Scuola di Robotica has expressed, since the beginning, as an association, a particular and continuous sensitivity to the theme “women and technology”. In February 2008, after a course held by representatives of Fraunhofer in Genoa, Scuola di Robotica was named Roberta’s Regional Center for Italy.


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