Why should Robotics be taught in schools?
There is considerable anecdotal evidence that students respond well in subjects involving programming of robots. At Berwick Lodge Primary School we offer a whole school robotics program that begins in Prep and ends in Grade 6.
Plenty of resources are available on the internet for parents and teachers, for example, robot kits such as Lego Mindstorms and Vex Robotics, simple programmable robots such as Sphero balls, and lesson plans. Sophisticated, engaging robots such as the NAO robot are also available.
Here are four reasons to teach robotics in schools:
1. Children find it fun
There are several competitions for a range of age groups that can channel competitive instincts in a positive way. For example, asking children to build a robot from a Lego set and then running a race to see which robot goes fastest works well. Berwick Lodge Primary School has even competed on the international stage in the First Lego League competition and won!
2. Effective way of introducing programming to students
Programming can be too abstract. By having to control a physical robot and seeing what goes wrong, students learn what robots can and can’t do. They also learn the need for precise instructions.
Robotics helps address the growing demand for teaching science, technology, engineering and maths in schools. As well as exemplifying technology directly by programming the robot, students also learn about science, engineering and maths and get an understanding of how these subjects link together.
3. Provides skills useful in future employment
There’s no doubt that there will be a need for people to be involved in programming mechanical devices in the foreseeable future. The drone industry has taken off.
By programming robots, students can discover if they have aptitude and interest in a job market of the future.
4. Suitable for children with a range of abilities
There is considerable evidence that robots are particularly suitable for engaging with children on the autism spectrum. Children on the spectrum respond to the calm, clear, consistent interactions that robots can provide.
Repetition, predictability and clear emotions work well.