The demand on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)-educated and enthusiastic employees is growing continuously. It is well known that the challenge to motivate students for a technical study needs to be taken already during compulsory schooling. Hands-on robotic experiments, referring to a topic that is well-known and connected to many future technology concepts, are one possibility to increase the attractiveness of technological applications. Many platforms have already been developed and used in education, including humanoid robots (e.g., the NAO robot), swarm robotic platforms (e.g., the e-Puck or the Spiderino) and the LEGO Mindstorm series. The Spiderino robot, being an autonomous robot build upon a toy robot platform, offers an excellent possibility, also in fusing different types of technological domains: 3D printing, robotics, programming, sensors, actuators and swarm intelligence — highly important topics packaged in a toy-like platform.
In this work we study the effect of using the Spiderino swarm robotic platform in education. In particular, we applied this platform in a classroom workshop format. We evaluate if this workshop positively influences students on a personal level and increase their interest in STEM subjects, specifically computer science. Therefore, we propose an approach to measure such effects by conducting a quantitative student and a qualitative teacher questionnaire. For that matter, 5 practical workshops, 4 h each, have been done with 69 students, 14 to 18 years old. The results show a remarkable acceptance of using swarm robotic platforms as an effective educational tool: Easy-to-use, entertaining, and increasing motivation to solve tasks have been observed during the interaction between the students and the robot.