NSF Expedition in Computing: Socially Assistive Robotics
As part of the NSF Expeditions in Computing Grant for Socially Assistive Robotics for Children we are currently developing systems to support children's development in classroom settings. This work primarily focuses on understanding child-robot interaction, and developing personalized robotics interventions appropriate to children with a wide range of developmental needs. Our first study centered around an extended (6-session) interaction between an ethnically and geographically diverse group of 26 first-grade children and the DragonBot robot in the context of learning about healthy food choices. We found that children demonstrated a high level of enjoyment when interacting with the robot, and a statistically significant increase in engagement with the system over the duration of the interaction. We also found evidence of relationship-building between the child and robot, and encouraging trends towards child learning. These results are promising for the use of socially assistive robotic technologies for long-term one-on-one educational interventions for younger children.