Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 90–103 | Cite as

Fostering Analogical Reasoning Through Creating Robotic Models of Biological Systems

  • Dan Cuperman
  • Igor M. VernerEmail author


This article considers student analogical reasoning associated with learning practice in creating bio-inspired robots. The study was in the framework of an outreach course for middle school students. Fifty eighth and ninth graders performed inquiries into behavior and locomotion of snakes and designed robotic models using the BIOLOID robot construction kit. We analyzed the interdomain analogies between biological and robotic systems elaborated by the students and evaluated the contribution of the analogies to the integrated learning of biology and robotics. The analogies expressed by the students at different stages of the course were collected and categorized, and their use in knowledge construction was traced. The study indicated that students’ reasoning evolved with learning, towards an increased share of deeper analogies at the end of the course. We found that analogical reasoning helped students to construct knowledge and guided their inquiry and design activities. In the proposed framework, the students learn to inquire into biological systems, generate analogies, and use them for developing and improving robotic systems.


Model-based learning Design and inquiry Bio-inspired robotics Analogical reasoning Interdomain analogies Bioloid 



This study was supported by the PTC Inc. grant.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Education in Science and TechnologyTechnion – Israel Institute of TechnologyHaifaIsrael

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