The world today revolves around tech. As technology plays an increasingly significant role in our lives, STEM learning becomes all the more valuable. One of the best resources STEM teachers have at their disposal is robotics.
Robots are some of the most recognizable real-world examples of many STEM concepts. They’ve shaped the world so dramatically that some governments are considering mandatory robotics education for students through high school. Even if it’s not required in every area, all STEM educators should consider using robots in their curriculum.
What makes robots such an excellent learning resource compared to other teaching methods or technologies? Here are a few reasons.
The first reason STEM learning should include robotics is because it's engaging. Math and the sciences involve a lot of numbers and theories, which students may find dull. Getting to design, build or fix robots adds a hands-on, more interesting experience.
Just 59% of middle school students and 60% of high school students feel engaged in school. Sadly, only 52% of all children enjoy coming to school most of the time. Kids need more exciting learning experiences to learn effectively. Robots, which are both fascinating and hands-on, provide the engagement they need, that's why robotics education is a must!
When students work with robotics, they can see their learning outcomes play out in tangible ways. Beyond that, getting to work with robots, which they see in movies and TV, is simply fun. Most people will agree that building real-world machines is more exciting than looking at numbers and formulas.
Another reason robotics is an excellent STEM learning tool is because they involve so many disciplines. Robots can seem complex because building one requires knowledge of multiple fields, from engineering to programming. While that may seem like a disadvantage, this complexity is part of why they’re such a helpful way to learn.
Even in their most stripped-down form, robots give students hands-on lessons in multiple subjects. They’ll learn mechanical engineering concepts from putting together moving parts on the machine. They’ll also pick up basic coding principles when they program it. Educators can get virtually unlimited lesson plans out of one resource.
Most things outside of the classroom don’t happen in a silo. Everything is connected. Learning to work with robots gives students a taste of how different sciences and concepts relate. They’ll use multiple skills at once in their daily lives, and robots can teach them how.
Teaching with robotics also helps give students practical examples of crucial STEM concepts. It may be easier for some students to understand these ideas when they see them playing out in the real world. This practicality can make abstract concepts more concrete and potentially dull lessons more engaging.
For example, electrical engineering courses should teach the differences between different types of wires. Using the wrong kind can lead to damaged wiring or safety concerns, but traditional lectures may not demonstrate this effectively. When working on robots, students will see why these differences matter since they can see the consequences.
Practical lessons show students why the concepts they learn in the classroom are important. They also give them a chance to apply what they’ve learned, teaching them how to use their skills in the future. This hands-on, real-world approach to STEM learning will help ensure success if they pursue STEM jobs.
Another advantage of using robotics to teach STEM concepts is its scalability. Robots can be straightforward or remarkably complex, so they can teach crucial lessons to students at all levels. Educators can tailor lessons to different classes or even specific students to ensure everyone receives the education they need.
At first, robotics may seem too complicated for younger students, but it can be surprisingly accessible. Kids as young as 13 have designed robots. Educators can find plenty of robotics lesson plans made specifically with young children in mind. From there, scaling up for older or more advanced students is easy.
Students can even learn to apply increasingly complex concepts with the same robot. First, they could learn how to make it move in a straight line. Next, they could equip it with a moving arm, then program it to perform a sequence of actions. There’s always something new to teach with robotics.
Robots are also ideal tools to foster creativity, one of the most overlooked STEM concepts. If students enter STEM fields as professionals, they’ll have to find creative solutions to obstacles. Since robots are such a broad, varied category involving many skills, they’re an ideal teaching tool for STEM innovation.
When companies apply robotics in the real world, it’s often as a creative solution to a pressing problem. STEM educators can recreate this in the classroom by giving students a challenge to solve with robots. Contests to design a bot to complete a given task the best way require students to think creatively about the concepts they’ve learned.
When Google analyzed the eight most important qualities for their best performers, hard STEM skills fell toward the bottom. The top seven characteristics of success were all soft skills like creative problem-solving. Fostering these abilities through robotics will prepare students for successful STEM careers.
Robotics should be a standard part of STEM learning because it’s inclusive. Everybody has different skills, interests and learning styles, which affect their education. With its multiple involved disciplines and endless possible approaches, robotics can help meet every student’s educational needs.
Robots have something to offer all students, regardless of their learning styles. Visual learners will benefit from seeing robots carry out engineering concepts they may not understand on paper. The hands-on building aspect of robotics will help kinesthetic learners grasp abstract science ideas. Mathematical learners will find programming engaging.
Designing and programming robots to complete a task lets students take advantage of their specific skills. Since these machines are so versatile, there are virtually endless ways to solve a problem with robots. Students of any knowledge level or skill set can contribute something to robotics-based problem-solving.
STEM fields are an increasingly relevant part of life as technology’s influence on everything grows. Students need a solid STEM education more than ever, and robotics is the ideal teaching tool. These machines offer an engaging, accessible, practical and scalable way to learn a broad range of skills and concepts.
STEM learning encompasses many different fields and ideas, which can seem daunting at first. Robots give students one place to learn skills in all these areas, equipping them for success. Wherever students go after their education, they’ll be better off learning about robots.