Coding with the Robot
A California State Library LSTA grant program intended to facilitate easy duplication of successful projects
- PLP Innovation and Technology Grant
- Palo Alto City Library
- Dan Lou, Senior Librarian
- CopyCat grant maximum funding: $10,000
Description: Participants in Coding with the Robot workshops discover and learn coding, robotics, and computational thinking using Choregraphe software. With their new-found knowledge, they teach the library's NAO autonomous, programmable, humanoid robot to walk, talk, and dance. Tutorials on the library's website supplement group workshops that are held weekly in the library computer room.
Purpose: Tweens can be especially difficult to engage, as they are early adopters of new technologies. In order to solidify itself as a need within the community, the library needs to show that it can meet the advanced information needs of the young information generation. This program was designed to harness and generate excitement about technology and engage and welcome community members to the library.
Target Audience: The workshop is open to anyone age 11 and higher (parents and children often attend together), and attendees can range from beginners with no coding experience to expert developers.
Expected Outcomes: Community members will gain knowledge and understanding of basic robotics hardware, relevant technologies and coding concepts, such as speech recognition, odometry errors, and robot joints and movements.
- NAO Robot (comes with software)
- Marketing and workshop supplies
See original grant application for details and in-kind staff estimates.
- Purchase equipment A NAO robot with an unlimited site license for Choregraphe and MIFI for the robot to connect to the internet.
- Reserve computer lab at library workshop works well if there is one computer per participant/family. In addition to PCs loaded with Choregraphe software, adequate space is needed for a table/desk for library staff to use in robot demonstration. A projector and screen is required as well.
- Install Choregraphe software on computers (comes with the robot)
- Become familiar with the robot No prior experience with coding or robotics is needed for library staff, but adequate time should be built into the timeline for program leader to learn the software.
- Prepare curriculum and create GitHub repository for tutorials and code. Example: https://github.com/PaloAltoLibrary/NAO-Tutorials
- Create form for customers to get instructions on installing Choregraphe on their own computer. Example: https://library.cityofpaloalto.org/get-started-with-nao-robot/
- Create program page in library website. Example: https://library.cityofpaloalto.org/browse_program/play-with-robot/
- Recruit and train volunteers Workshops work well if library staff member has one or two volunteers familiar with the software to assist participants. Palo Alto City Library's (PACL) volunteers were local high school students. See the Copycat Grant Toolkits volunteers page for tips.
- Schedule workshops Original workshop was a series of four consecutive Sundays (Meet the Robot, Let's Walk, Let's Chat), but program is easily tailored to one three-hour workshop that covers all material. Pick a time that a whole family will be able to join the workshop together. But try to avoid schedule the workshop right at the time the library opens, as computers need to be turned on and ready to go when workshop starts. Make sure workshops are on the library's calendar.
- Publicize and promote the program (ongoing) Create post for library's social media, create content for the library website. Samples: https://paloalto.bibliocommons.com/events/5ac51956e91bc63800b07141, Coding with Robot Flyer (pdf format), Dewey Robot Button (pdf format), Dewey Robot Bookmark (pdf format). See the Copycat Grant Toolkits marketing page for additional tips.
- Evaluation create a survey or poll on the computers for participants to complete at the end of each session. Visit the outcomes page for tips.
- Launch tutorial sessions
- Librarian and volunteers set up the tech room. Move in the robot, its desk, and laptops. Set up projector and adjust the light in the room. Sanity check all computers in the room.
- Attendees check in with volunteers on tablet using a Google sheet.
- Volunteers hand out temporary library cards to attendees who need it.
Librarian starts the workshop:
- Give a general overview of the workshop and the session's robot show
- Tutorial specific for the session. Example: https://github.com/PaloAltoLibrary/NAO-Tutorials
- During the process, attendees follow the tutorial and develop an app with Choregraphe. They run the app on the virtual robot on the computer and see the result.
- During the process, the librarian will explain how it works, and go over the basic concepts. Librarian and volunteers will answer questions and troubleshooting issues as they come up.
- Remind attendees to take the online poll.