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Zenbo, the Social Robot Teaches Cyber Safety

A cross-disciplinary collaboration at the University of Delaware has developed a teaching tool to deliver cybersecurity training in classrooms—Zenbo, the social robot. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the project joins researchers from the College of Education and Human Development and the College of Engineering.

Recently, fifth graders from The College School learned lessons about safeguarding information online from Zenbo. The two-foot tall robot is programmed to tell children stories and solicit responses that test their knowledge on topics like phishing and password safety.

Based on prior research, the team believes using a social robot is an advantage over other methods, such as having children watch a video or animation. The children’s responses will provide data that the researchers can use to measure student knowledge about cybersecurity. Interacting with the robot may improve student engagement and bring about better outcomes for students with autism or emotional learning difficulties.

The research team plans to pilot Zenbo and the UD-developed cyber safety curriculum in classrooms in spring 2020.