Articulab Teams up with Assemble

By Maddie Adamczyk (Senior, Hampton High School)
and Sarah Parker (Junior, Pittsburgh Obama 6-12)

Our visit to Assemble in Garfield gave us a chance to observe graduate students interacting with children as part of a research project as well as a chance to catch up with a few children ourselves.

First, we had a chance to observe a Carnegie Mellon University Human Computer Interaction Institute program called ArticuLab, which describes its mission as studying how people communicate with and through technology.  We spoke with Tara Matthews and Cameron Burnette, students at Pitt and Oberlin, respectively, about their work as summer interns on an ArticuLab research project.  The goal of their  project is to support development of a computer program that caters to children in natural phrases and dialect that transcend gender, age, and race barriers.  To work toward this goal, Tara and Cameron have been recording  campers at Assemble as they talk about science. At the end of each week of Assemble camps, Tara and Cameron select age groups and record them discussing science with peers, strangers and to an audience. Once they have gathered this data, they intend to investigate differences in camper voices from each setting.

We then decided to interview the children to learn more about their science experiences. Shaun and Tyler talked to us individually about their project to test velocities of two different types of balls on a ramp. They tested this on two separate occasions as they changed the friction of the ramp each time they conducted a trial. They also worked with electricity and their favorite memory was making circuits together out of conductive and insulating dough and LEDs. Another camper, Lily, informed us that making the terrarium was her favorite part. Ecology really interested her.  Meanwhile, the day was wrapping up with Kitchen Chemistry Day, a final-day-of-camp celebration featuring ice cream making and more.

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