Teaching teenagers robotics introduces them to cutting-edge fields

Teaching teenagers robotics introduces them to cutting-edge fields

     Teenagers find themselves at a crossroads in their lives. They are caught between youth and adulthood, and face many decisions that will shape their futures. It is the job of parents and educators alike to prepare them for the tasks ahead. Schools, clubs, and other extracurricular organizations all strive to impart some experience onto students that will help them grow. Although it is by no means an easy choice of study, students who are interested in STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math have many advantages and opportunities before them. In this day and age, these disciplines are growing at a remarkable rate. To get in on the booming industries, students only need to get involved in the advanced fields, such as information technology, artificial intelligence, materials physics, and especially robotics. This will not only give them job security for the foreseeable future, but will also get them involved in an exciting line of work that will come to define the coming decades.

     We all know that children are our future, so it is our duty to them and to the world to educate them. Teenagers are specifically sensitive to our efforts. At a time when their lives are changing a great deal, many parents find it difficult to keep their children focused on school. For many, social obligations take precedent. That is why it is crucial to get students engaged in something in school. This could be sports, service, or a subject they truly care about. There is a personal responsibility of the student, of course; as the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. But if there is any way to support, encourage, or otherwise help your student, of course you’ll take it.

STEM classes aim to get students, especially underrepresented groups such as females and minorities, interested in advanced fields.

STEM classes aim to get students, especially underrepresented groups such as females and minorities, interested in advanced fields.

     To that effect, there are some cutting-edge courses that are beginning to be offered in the classroom and beyond. They promise to engage students like never before. While pure sciences like physics, chemistry, or biology can be too dull and dry for many students, there are many other aspects of STEM that should be explored. A computer science course teaches self-discipline, just as a software development class can provide a creative outlet. Of course, students learn the actual material itself as well. This shouldn’t be overlooked, since the specific skills gained in these courses can easily translate into a real-world job later on.

     One such course that has an ideal mix of both soft skill development and marketable raw knowledge is robotics. It is a dynamic field, borrowing aspects from many other disciplines. There is hands-on work required to build the devices themselves, engineering aspects when it comes to design, physics know-how for wiring and getting all the components working, and computer science used to code the robot to follow your instructions. Building a robot is essentially a creative act, requiring the discipline and critical thinking of a scientist as well as the tangible, physical, real-life appeal of making something on your own. The field of robotics is itself a hybrid. To the beginner, the dizzying array of skills and knowledge that goes into making a robot can be intimidating. But that is what makes it a perfect subject to study. You become a jack-of-all-trades. Plus, if the robot itself doesn’t pique your interest, you will quickly discover what it is you do enjoy from the range of subjects that fall under the umbrella of “robotics.” Learning robotics gets teenagers interested in the subject, opening the doors to many interconnected fields.

This student demonstrates the interconnectedness between robotics and coding. Each relies on the other.

This student demonstrates the interconnectedness between robotics and coding. Each relies on the other.

     A detractor of many traditional science courses is the perception that there is little progress being made. While this is untrue in almost all cases, the perception alone can shape someone’s opinion of the field. Nobody claims robotics is boring or stagnant. It is one of the most exciting, fastest-growing, dynamic fields being studied. Our world is continually reshaped by robotics. These include drones, automated factories, prosthetic limbs, and much more. For a student considering a career in the sciences, robotics provides all the excitement they could desire. It is not all glitz and glamour, of course, but it is certainly a way to make a real-world impact. And by the time current students are out of higher education and enter the workforce, there will doubtlessly be emerging fields that we haven’t even considered. By then, perhaps we will be building nanomachines and dealing with artificial intelligence. The future is unknown, but we can be sure that the future of robotics will be interesting.

     The hardest part about getting students into robotics is starting. There is so much to know, and such a large scope, that it is intimidating. But there are many schools offering it as a class or club. And for those who take a more individualized approach, the startup costs can be high for getting all the requisite parts and equipment. But the investment is worth it if it means your student has the opportunity to test out an exciting subject. Robotics opens the door to a whole new world of career possibilities in one of the most dynamic, exciting fields in the realm of science. We owe it to our children and future generations to have our best and brightest minds working on these technologies that will drive our society onward.