In just fifty years, the field of robotics has grown from a novel fantasy to a very real source of tools for innovation across industries. We see robotics at work in everything from manufacturing and medicine, to house cleaning and the development of autonomous cars. Yet, while sci-fi humanoids likely won’t be roaming workplaces any time soon, it’s clear that robotics tools are paving the way for a future rich with both automation and innovation.
In the edtech space, robotics tools have been championed as resources for teaching students valuable 21st century skills. As the need to prepare students for an ever-evolving job market and continues to grow, more and more educators across content areas and grade levels are looking to introduce robotics initiatives and tools to their classrooms.
Thinking about bringing robotics to your students? Read on for advice on how to make your STEM dreams a reality.
Six Tips for Bringing Robotics Education to All Students
- Bring the club to the classroom
Robotics clubs are great for students that want to pursue the work at a higher, more competitive level, but the first step a school can take towards making sure these valuable STEM skills are reaching all students, is to bring the work from after school to in school.
- Start STEM early
According to robotics leaders, by starting to teach young children basic STEM skills like question based inquiry, creative exploration, and purposeful play, students will develop a strong foundation of skills that will make more complex STEM concepts easier to grasp in later grades.
- Scaffold with the Standards
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) recognizes engineering design as a key component of science education, specifically citing robotics as a valuable tool for engaging students that may not have shown an initial interest in STEM. In fact, many robotics tools are explicitly aligned with the NGSS and provide teachers with detailed lesson plans.
- Connect with your community
Even for veteran robotics educators, finding effective ways to bring robotics projects to the classroom can be challenging. Thankfully, there are numerous online resources for teachers to share lesson plans, recommendations, and ask for advice around robotics education. Check out the TK Robotics Network for early- childhood resources, and CS Unplugged or Robotics Academy.
- Build a strong team
While abundant online resources can help with actual robotics implementation, it’s still important to have a team of teachers and administrators that can dedicate time and energy to researching products, coordinating professional development, and bridging the gap between early adopter teachers and those that may be less familiar with robotics technology.
- Plan before purchasing
Purchasing products is exciting, but spending money on products that don’t meet your school’s explicit needs or that wont work within your wireless infrastructure is a very real risk unless sufficient planning has taken place. Think about your student demographics, teacher capacity, and financial resources before making any product decisions and don’t be afraid to take time researching and demoing products of interest to see if they’ll work within your school’s context.