Built-in lessons make a starter robotics kit a perfect fit into any STEM curriculum

Built-in lessons make a starter robotics kit a perfect fit into any STEM curriculum

“Education is the best provision for old age.”

-Aristotle

     As one of the greatest philosophers in the Western world, Aristotle knew a thing or two about education. He knew that a sound mind is crucial to long-term prosperity. For this same reason, we all want our children to receive the best education possible. Basics such as reading, writing, and arithmetic are obviously important, but in today’s day and age, science courses have never been so crucial. To this end, many schools are establishing STEM programs to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. In an advanced elementary school, and definitely in many middle and high schools, these programs offer courses to students who are interested in developing skills that will grant them long, productive, fulfilling careers.

Built-in lessons make a starter robotics kit a perfect fit into any STEM curriculum

     In the famous painting The School of Athens by the Renaissance master Raphael, Aristotle is shown in a blue robe in the center of the work, deep in discussion with his teacher, Plato. As the student of one of the greatest Western philosophers, and one himself, Aristotle knew a thing or two about education.

     The best provision for a country’s success, just like an individual’s, is education. American science education is lagging behind other countries, so the response is a refocus on STEM fields and education. Concentration on STEM fields has ramped up in recent years as federal and state organizations try to develop a native workforce that will remain competitive in the global economy. Some of the basic ideas are to introduce STEM topics earlier in the K-12 system; this can include teaching some basic engineering to elementary schoolers, or sponsoring robotics clubs and curriculum topics in middle school. The end-goal is to raise a generation of technologically-capable, competitive, productive citizens who will carry on the American legacy of ground-breaking scientific progress.

     So what does that mean for you and your student? There is more emphasis than before on science and technology classes, of course. There is also a greater amount of training offered to teachers. After all, no amount of money can help if the teachers don’t know what they are teaching. For traditional science classes like physics and chemistry, some extra training is sufficient for having teachers give effective instruction. But for some of the newer topics, it will take more time and energy to train older teachers who may not have engaged with such technologies as students in their own time. Middle-aged teachers can’t be expected to be experts in computer science, information technologies, or robotics.

Built-in lessons make a starter robotics kit a perfect fit into any STEM curriculum

     Computer labs are becoming a more common sight in elementary and middle schools. These resources allow demonstrations, collaboration, coding, and technology education to occur.

     One of the main aims of STEM programs is to stop teaching these scientific subjects in isolation. Some of the greatest advances have come from multidisciplinary approaches to difficult questions, so it is unfair to our students to present science as a disparate, disjointed entity. It can prove challenging to link topics in a meaningful way, especially when bound by a strict curriculum focused on standardized tests. That is where robotics comes into play

     The field of robotics is a favorite of STEM programs because it integrates several other distinct topics, such as physics, electronics, computer science, and coding into one dynamic subject. Robotics isn’t necessarily a new field, but it has made incredible advances in the past few decades. It has gone from a niche topic to a widely-available hobbyist attraction. Even if your school doesn’t offer a robotics program, there are many kits built specifically to walk students through on their own. The best even have tutorials for teachers or parents, should their student ask questions that they can’t figure out on their own. At its core, robotics is the study and process of building robots. But there is far more to it than putting the pieces together, and that can be a detractor as well as a benefit.

     Most teachers are likely unfamiliar with robotics. It has only emerged in the last few years in the classroom setting. But luckily for them and for your student, there is no need to worry about their capabilities to teach a robotics unit or class. Robotics kits nowadays come with software packages that have pre-made lesson plans. Each teaches a unique concept, part, or idea. When paired with a lecture or slideshow explaining some of the background information, these lessons can basically teach themselves. This is also ideal for homeschool and independent learning settings. For a driven student, everything is there for them to discover. All they have to do is actively learn, get creative, and ask questions.

     Robotics courses are only one of many STEM classes your student will likely take. But the lessons they learn in that setting will open the door to many different fields of study. Maybe your student doesn’t like robotics as a whole, but loved coding the robot to tell it what to do. They will be encouraged to take some computer science courses and see if that is a possible career path. Perhaps they love wiring the robot, but never thought about becoming an electrician before. These types of experiences happen all the time in STEM classes because rarely have students tried out these types of things on their own. Robotics can be one of the best ways to sample the huge range of possibilities out there, while also providing for homeschools, independent learners, and teachers who need some assistance building a lesson plan. It truly has something for everyone.