The Classroom of Tomorrow – Swarm Robots in Education

Learn how EPFL in Lausanne is making robots that are the pencils of tomorrow’s classroom – and try them yourself. This event is part of the Cambridge Science Festival!

Event Details


swissnex Boston
420 Broadway, Cambridge , Massachusetts 02138 United States


April 15, 2016 from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm America/New York (UTC-05:00)



Join swissnex Boston for an exciting event about robots in education. Learn how EPFL in Lausanne is making robots that are the pencils of tomorrow’s classroom – and try them yourself. 

Dr. Wafa Johal, postdoctoral researcher, and Ayberk Özgür from the CHILI (Computer-Human Interaction for Learning and Instruction) Lab will present their lab and work on the Cellulo swarm robots — autonomously moving robots that can be ubiquitously used for learning activities in the classroom. The presentations will be followed by a hands-on demonstration of the robots.


6:00 pm: Doors open

6:30 pm: Presentations

  • Computer-Human Interaction in Learning and Instruction Lab – Dr. Wafa Johal, CHILI Lab, EPFL
  • Cellulo, learning by interacting with swarm robots – Ayberk Özgür, CHILI Lab, EPFL

7:00 pm: Demo Session

7:30 pm: Networking & Reception

9:00 pm: Doors Close


Dr. Wafa Johal is a researcher at EPFL in the CHILI/LSRO (Computer-Human Interaction for Learning and Instruction/Robotic Systems Laboratory) Labs. She is currently working on the Cellulo Project, which aims to design and build the pencils of the future classroom, in the form of robots. She is interested to improve acceptability of assistive robots by using social signals of communication. Wafa Johal worked on proxemics and recognition of social attitudes in human-robot interaction and is interested in social signal processing and expression. She therefore has also worked on expressivity of robots using facial and body expressions. Wafa Johal obtained her Ph.D. in 2015 from the University of Grenoble. She received a B.S./B.A. in Computer Sciences and Mathematics applied to Cognitive Sciences and subsequently did a Research Master in Computer Sciences, specializing in Robotics, Computer Vision and Computer Graphics.


Wafa Johal will speak about:
The Computer-Human Interaction in Learning and Instruction (CHILI) Lab
This talk will present current research projects of the CHILI lab on novel interfaces for learning. The interfaces used in the projects go from tangible, tabletop environment, paper-based interfaces to robots. The CHILI Lab studies how these interfaces can be used in training and learning contexts. The systems are usually evaluated via empirical studies and experiments in the lab and in the real-world such as classrooms.



Ayberk Özgür is a Ph.D. candidate at the CHILI Lab at EPFL in Lausanne. He is working on the Cellulo project and is designing the paper-assisted tangible swarm robot platform for learning and teaching. His research interests include mobile robots, tangible interfaces, human-robot interaction and machine learning. Ayberk Özgür received his B.Sc. degree in Computer Engineering at Bogazici University in 2013 before starting his Ph.D. at EPFL.

Ayberk Ozgur

Ayberk Özgür will speak in more detail about his project: 
Cellulo, learning by interacting with swarm robots
The collaborative learning activity of the CHILI Lab for children uses the palm-sized tangible Cellulo robots that are currently in development. The robots work on the surface of a paper (multiple at the same time) being able to move autonomously (and can also be moved manually). One of the major goals is to study a novel tangible interaction scheme with such autonomous objects and use it in different activities to induce and observe learning effects. In this talk Ayberk Özgür will introduce some of the technical aspects that induce the high potential of Cellulo robots in classrooms.



Demo Session: Wind with Cellulo at the Cambridge Science Festival

This year at the Cambridge Science Festival’s Robots’ Zoo, child participants will help Cellulo robots to displace across a physical map using the force caused by wind. Participants will have to evaluate the force of the wind on the map via tangible interactions and haptic feedback from the Cellulo robots. During this activity, children participants will learn about force vectors, gradient, vector fields, and the formation and dynamics of wind.

Guests of the Friday evening event will be presented with a demo session as well.

Event Photos