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Roberta goes EU

Final Report Summary - ROBERTA-EU (Roberta goes EU)

The ROBERTA-EU project aimed to address the lack of female engineers by raising girls' interest for technical professions. ROBERTA-EU used robotics courses as a creative learning environment to teach knowledge in information technology (IT), electrical engineering, and mechanics. The ROBERTA course concept is especially tailored towards gender related issues, i.e. the didactic approach selects topics and experiments that are more interesting for girls.

The Roberta course concept and its didactic material was developed in the German research project 'ROBERTA - girls discover robots' (2002-2006). ROBERTA-EU adapted this successful concept to be used on a European level. The approach can be briefly summarised as follows:
1. Providing gendered didactic material to teachers as a resource from which they can design and assemble courses tailored to the individual local needs. For ROBERTA-EU, the original material was translated and adapted to meet requirements of the project.
2. Teaching and certificate the teachers (also called Roberta course instructors) in special training courses to use robot construction kits as a means to teach interdisciplinary technical contents, especially - but not only - for girls.
3. Teach the teacher training. Enable outstanding Roberta teachers to become so called 'Roberta coaches' (also called course directors). Roberta coaches are qualified to teach and certificate other Roberta teachers in close relation with the Roberta headquarters.
4. Setting up a network of Roberta regional centres, which promote the ideas behind Roberta and provide teacher trainings, Roberta courses, teaching material and advice. Roberta regional centres normally operate in a limited regional area.
5. Assessing, documenting, and evaluating experiences made in courses performed in the new Roberta regional centres. This provides essential data and arguments for raising public awareness and promoting the inclusion of Roberta didactic course elements into national curricula.

Together with the installation of a Roberta regional centre a certain number of Roberta teachers has been trained and certificated. These Roberta teachers are connected to their regional centre. Only certificated Roberta teacher are allowed to deliver Roberta courses to ensure the quality of the courses. During the project 12 Roberta regional centres have been established in five European countries: United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Austria and Switzerland.

On the whole, the project course is reflected positively. The establishment of regional centres in the participating European countries and the Roberta courses conducted so far can be deemed a success. The Roberta teaching material has generally been judged positively. A culture-specific demand for modification could not be established so far. The assessed regional centres have a well working network with cooperating schools on a regional level. In addition, the majority of the regional centres directors wish to establish an international network under the prerequisite that the additional network stresses the already scarce time and money resources as little as possible. Several sides expressed the wish to think together about continuing the evaluation. Taking into consideration the didactic material, it can be noted that the objective was achieved to make girls enjoy technology.

The assessment of the University of Bremen has shown there are two major recommendations concerning the project ROBERTA-EU:
- Bring the children in contact with Roberta already before they reach puberty (Suggestions for the extension of Roberta to younger age groups or extension of Roberta courses for all generations were expressed).
- The integration of Roberta into the curricula is felt to be very desirable but have to be done on a national basis within the European countries.

The project ROBERTA-EU was the first major step to bring Roberta to Europe. The positive feed-back from the now larger network and the results of the independent assessments by the University of Bremen motivate Fraunhofer IAIS to further invest in an extension of the Roberta network and the didactic material. Fraunhofer IAIS will concentrate on these issues in future and will take care on the quality assessment of the Roberta teachers, courses and materials.