Established by Denise Szecsei in 2015, the Robot Theater Summer Camp focuses on learning the basics of dramatic storytelling with robot technology (Cozmo, created by Anki) as part of the story. If you have written a script, story, or poem that you have been dreaming of seeing performed on stage, then this class is for you—our Cozmos will be your actors. If you have an interest in robotics and want to work with sophisticated technology, then this class is for you—Cozmo will introduce you to the world of robotics.

Teams of students will be working together to create these theater performances. This class is designed for students who are interested in developing their writing talents, but also welcomes students who don't see themselves as strong writers. Likewise, this class is designed for students who are interested in developing their programming skills, but also welcomes students who don't see themselves as computer programmers. No previous experience with writing, puppetry, theatre, or working with robots is required.

The class will start with an introduction to the elements of storytelling and the conventions of how to put a play on the page. Then, using a series of daily writing prompts, theatre games, workshops, and dedicated in class writing time, students will fill in the details for a skit that takes advantage of the capabilities of the robots. These completed writing projects will be then programmed into Cozmo robots and performed on the last day of class! We will learn to program Cozmo using Code Lab (available through the Cozmo App) as well as Python.

For more information, the Robot Theater blog can be found at robottheater.wordpress.com.

About the Instructor

Denise Szecsei holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics and is passionate about the learning process. She has taught classes in computer science, mathematics, chemistry, and nuclear engineering. She loves to keep up with new technological developments and incorporate new technology into her classes and research activities. She has been working with Nao Robots for two years and has taught robot dance and theater classes to students with a variety of interests and backgrounds and loves to see how people of all ages express themselves through these robots.

Previous Camps

Grades 6 through 8 (as of Spring 2019) - Residential Academic Program

June 16, 2019 - June 21, 2019 (All day - Sample Junior Scholars Institute schedule)

Final Performance: TBD. Free and open to the public.

Morning: Playwriting | Afternoon: Programming
On University of Iowa campus (Blank Honors Center)

The focus of this class is to learn the basics of dramatic story telling that incorporate robot technology (Cozmo, created by Anki) as part of the story. If you have written a script, story, or poem that you have been dreaming of seeing performed on stage, then this class is for you—our Cozmos will be your actors. If you have an interest in robotics and want to work with sophisticated technology, then this class is for you—Cozmo will introduce you to the world of robotics.

Teams of students will be working together to create these theater performances. This class is designed for students who are interested in developing their writing talents, but also welcomes students who don't see themselves as strong writers. Likewise, this class is designed for students who are interested in developing their programming skills, but also welcomes students who don't see themselves as computer programmers. No previous experience with writing, puppetry, theatre, or working with robots is required.

The class will start with an introduction to the elements of story telling and the conventions of how to put a play on the page. Then, using a series of daily writing prompts, theatre games, workshops, and dedicated in class writing time, students will fill in the details for a skit that takes advantage of the capabilities of the robots. These completed writing projects will be then programmed into Cozmo robots and performed on the last day of class! We will learn to program Cozmo using Code Lab (available through the Cozmo App) as well as Python.

Grades 6 through 8 (as of Spring 2018) - Residential Academic Program

June 17, 2018 - June 22, 2018 (All day - Sample Junior Scholars Institute schedule)

Final Performance: TBD. Free and open to the public.

Morning: Playwriting | Afternoon: Programming
On University of Iowa campus (Blank Honors Center)

No previous experience with computer programming or robotics is necessary for this robot theater class! Girls and boys alike are welcome to join this class and meet the Nao Robots. In this one-of-a-kind class you will help the robots—Alex, Erin, Jackie, Jessie, Jordan, Rene, Taylor— act out skits. The robots will tell bedtime stories and pitch an idea to the robot version of "Shark Tank". Come with a story or conversation already written and program the robots to perform it!

For more information and to apply, please go to the Belin-Blank Center Student Programs.

Grades 6 through 8 (as of Spring 2017) - Residential Academic Program

June 18, 2017 - June 23, 2017 (All day - Sample Junior Scholars Institute day schedule)

Final Performance: Friday, June 23, 2017 at 11am in 240 Belin-Blank Center (BHC). Free and open to the public.

Morning: Playwriting | Afternoon: Programming
On University of Iowa campus (Blank Honors Center)

This girl-friendly programming class integrates the arts and the sciences. The focus of this class is to learn computational thinking and computer science in the context of the performing arts—programming NAO humanoid robots to perform theatrical skits. Come and experience an innovative way for students with high math and verbal abilities to engage in computer science and technology-related fields. Teams of students will be working together to create robot theater performances. No previous experience with writing, puppetry, theater, or working with robots is required. The class will start with an introduction to the elements of story telling and the conventions of how to put a play on the page. Then using a series of daily writing prompts, theatre games, workshops, and dedicated in class writing time, students will write a short monologue or scene that takes advantage of the capabilities of the robots. These completed writing projects will be then programed into the robots and delivered as part of the final performance that will take place on the last day of class.

Grades 6 through 8 (as of Spring 2016) - Residential Academic Program

June 19, 2016 - June 24, 2016 (All day - Sample Junior Scholars Institute day schedule)

Final Performance: Friday, June 24, 2016 at 11am in 240 Belin-Blank Center (BHC). Free and open to the public.

Morning: Playwriting | Afternoon: Programming
On University of Iowa campus (MacLean Hall)

Learn about the theater through the eyes of adorable interactive humanoid Nao robots. There is only one set of Nao robots on the University of Iowa campus, and these delicate and valuable creatures are being made available for your study this summer! If you have written a script, story, or poem that you have been dreaming of seeing performed on stage, then this class is for you—the robots will be your performers. If you have an interest in robotics and want to work with sophisticated technology, then this class is for you—the robots will be your performers. Because theater performances are built by teams of individuals who bring different strengths to the theater group, this class is looking for students who are interested in developing their writing talents, but also welcomes students who don't see themselves as strong writers. Likewise, this class is looking for students who are interested in developing their programming skills, but also welcomes students who don't see themselves as computer programers. In this class, teams of students will work together to create a one-of- a-kind Robot Theater. Using a series of daily writing prompts, theatre games, dedicated in-class writing time, and programming workshops students will write a short monologue or scene that takes advantage of the capabilities of the robots. A final public performance will take place on the last day of class!

Grades 4 through 6 (as of Spring 2015)

July 6, 2015 - July 17, 2015, 1:00PM- 4:00PM
On University of Iowa campus (MacLean Hall)

The focus of this class was to learn to program Nao Robots (softbankrobotics.com/emea/en). No previous experience with computer programming or robotics necessary. The class started with an introduction to the robots, and students learned about their speech and voice recognition capabilities. Then upper-body movement and walking were added to completely animate the robots. Finally, students learned how the robots communicate with each other. After becoming familiar with the robots, students had the opportunity to work in groups to program the robots to perform in a variety of skits, and these skits were used to create a final show. This final performance took place on the last day of the class, and was open to the public