Educational Haptics


Haptic (force feedback) devices for education have been developed and applied to help students at all levels (from kindergartners to graduate students) understand science and engineering concepts. An intuitive understanding of physical systems is key to the success of many science and engineering students.

Haptic devices are also excellent mechanisms for encouraging excitement about engineering in K-12 students. Most children are familiar with haptics already, in the form of the "rumble pack", which is a hand-held video game controller that vibrates to reflect certain events in the virtual environment. But it is not until they feel high-fidelity force feedback during simulations of dynamic systems and 3-D shapes that they understand the potential of haptics and gain knowledge about physical principles. Several haptic devices have been used to create a set of demonstrations designed for elementary school students and teachers.

The Haptic Paddle

The haptic paddle, originally developed at Stanford University, is a relatively low-cost one-degree-of-freedom haptic device that has been modified and used by universities worldwide for teaching haptics and other topics. Will Provancher at the University of Utah has cataloged the various haptic paddles on his Haptic Paddle Design web page. At Stanford, we are currently using haptic paddles in the course ME 327: Design and Control of Haptic Systems. In addition, we are exploring how low-cost haptic devices such as the haptic paddle could be used to augment Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and online learning in general. Open hardware information is posted here.


  • Allison Okamura
  • ME 327 TAs: Ann Majewicz and Nick Colonnese
  • Collaborator: Paulo Blikstein, Stanford School of Education


  • Stanford University School of Engineering and Department of Mechanical Engineering

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