PETS: A Personal Teller of Stories

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1999-11-23

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Let us start by reading a story written by a seven year old child, entitled Michelle. "There once was a robot named Michelle. She was new in the neighborhood. She was HAPPY when she first came, thinking she would make friends. But it was the opposite. Other robots threw rocks and sticks. She was SAD. Now no one liked her. One day she was walking down a street, a huge busy one, when another robot named Rob came up and ask [sic] if she wanted to have a friend. She was SCARED at first but then realized that she was HAPPY. The other robots were ANGRY but knew that they had learned their lesson. Michelle and Rob lived HAPPILY ever after. No one noticed the dents from rocks that stayed on Michelle." (Druin, Research notes, August 1998) This is just one of many stories that children have written with the help of PETS (Druin et al. 1999a). The author of Michelle did not just write this moving story; she is also an integral member of the team that built our robots. As you read on, PETS will be further described. Our motivations behind building such an interactive robotic pet will also be discussed. In addition, the process of how we made this robotic technology with our team of adults and six children will be introduced. And with this, we will present cooperative inquiry (Druin 1999a), the methodology that we embrace as we discover insights about technology, education, science, engineering, and art. Finally, this chapter will close with reflections on what was learned from on-going research effort. (Also cross-referenced as UMIACS-TR-99-67)

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