Students in Dr. George Benjamin’s class are mastering more than basic computer science skills. They’re learning about programming and robotics by focusing on problem sets.
Dr. Benjamin, associate professor of mathematics & computer science at Muhlenberg, teaches Computer Science I, which satisfies a general academic requirement for Muhlenberg students. Rather than simply providing a generic computing course, the College offers several variations: Introduction to Game Programming, Introduction to Multimedia Computing and Introduction to Robotics. By giving students the option of a specific focus for the class, professors find students remain more engaged and enthusiastic.
“By focusing on a topic that interests them, my students really enjoy learning the concepts and completing the objectives of the course,” says Benjamin.
Open-source software, developed through programs at Georgia Institute of Technology and Bryn Mawr College, allows students to dictate how the robots will behave.
Students can instruct the machines to complete several different tasks, including following a beam of light across the floor, avoiding obstacles and searching for objects based on specific parameters, including color. The students then deliver these instructions to their robots via a Bluetooth signal.
Students use the Python programming language to format the tasks for their robots. Python’s learning curve gives the students a challenge while remaining simple enough to learn over the course of a semester. The course enables students, even those without prior computer science experience, to hone both problem solving and computing skills.
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