Use of Robotics in Education Improves Middle School Students’ Ability to Problem Solve

Use of Robotics in Education Improves Middle School Students’ Ability to Problem Solve

Science teachers are always looking for new ways to make their classrooms more exciting and their lesson plans more dynamic for students. Especially when teaching middle school students, teachers face the unique challenge of motivating young people who are at an age where they’llstart to make decisions about what high school science courses to enroll in, and ultimately if they want to pursue science in the future or not.

Nevertheless, science curriculum presents numerous opportunities beyond a textbook-based classroom setting that lends itself to non-traditional learning and classroom engagement, particularly among middle school students.

In a robotics workshop, middle school students not only dive into complex scientific concepts in a hands-on way, they also develop skills like problem-solving that are transferable to a wide range of academic and professional pursuits.

The use of robotics in education allows students to break out of the traditional classroom framework, and to discover their interests and passions anew.

Keeping Teenagers Engaged

Robotics are an opportunity for middle school teachers to stir up excitement in their science classrooms.

Whereas in a traditional science classroom, students may become used to following classroom protocol set in place by the instructor, the power of robotics in education is that students take the reigns in planning, designing, and executing their robot prototype.

The advantage of robotics in the classroom is that students are exposed to all STEM fields, many times without them even realizing it. While some students may have preconceived notions about their inherent ability in science or math, for example, robotics turns those misconceptions on their head.

Through consistent work with robotics, middle school students will begin to realize just how varied the world of STEM really is. Some students will excel in plotting their robot’s blueprint, while other students may prefer to dig into the literal nuts and bolts construction of the project, while other students will perform best as a spokesperson for their group, explaining why and how their robot functions to class instructors and peers.

When students feel they have an equal opportunity to succeed in the task at hand, they’ll become more engaged in STEM classroom topics as a whole.

 

Activates Students Problem-Solving Skills

Although the classroom instructor or homeschool parent will inevitably take on a lead role at the beginning of the workshop to explain major objectives, classroom rules, etc., the purpose of a robotics workshop is that students also take interest and primary responsibility in the outcome of their robot.

At the middle school level, it’s critical that students become more independent thinkers. In a team setting (or independently), students must utilize trial-and-error methods to reach success.

When working in small teams, middle school students will have to present their solutions in a way that convinces teammates. Likewise, they’ll hear the ideas of classmates and weigh which options have the best chance of success. In this manner, students not only learn basic problem-solving skills for their own benefit, but they’ll also practice verbalizing to their peers a defense of their ideas through discussion-based problem-solving.

Bringing Technology into the Classroom

Many science teachers also face concerns about making class content relevant for their students. It’s one thing to read about gravity or electric current in a textbook, and another thing to see it carried out in front of them in a classroom lab experiment.

When it comes to presenting technology to students, teachers have a major advantage. Middle school students are each day becoming more versed in the world of technology, through everyday communication: smartphone messaging, video calls, advanced computer skills, etc.

Teachers can and should use this inherent interest in technology as they approach robotics in education. In fact, when it comes to technology and problem solving, students already have lots of experience there too, from fixing a broken phone to troubleshooting computer problems to learning the ins-and-outs of online blogging. All of these day-to-day life skills are transferable to the world of robots.

In presenting the robotics workshops, teachers can use these pre-existing examples of problem solving and technology to get students interested and prepared to take on this next big challenge in robotics.

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Preparing Your Students for the Future

Robotics in education is not just about preparing students to problem solve for the day’s activities. It’s also about equipping students with long-term problem-solving skills that will serve them well in whatever profession they choose to pursue.

Students that do choose to pursue a career in STEM can consider professions as engineers, mathematicians, computer specialists, and biologists. They’ll use reasoning skills every day to come upon conclusive data that perhaps has never been intensely studied before.

But STEM careers are not the only professions that call on problem-solving skills. The list is far more varied than one might first assume. Education administrators, midwives, social workers, air traffic controllers, neurologists, sports medicine physicians, and anesthesiologists must all use problem-solving independently and in group settings to solve pressing matters, often within a tight deadline. These positions on average boast competitive salaries since working conditions require intuition, quick thinking, and action. Nevertheless, each of these jobs also provides a unique payoff as professionals work closely with the people they hope to serve best.

Robotics in education among middle school students opens up doors beyond the information provided in a science textbook. Students and teachers alike will be challenged to change their perspective on what it means to advance in the STEM arena. Although gaining traction in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and science is a major plus, students shouldn’t feel boxed in when it comes to robotics.

Discovering the world of robotics means pursuing new talents, overcoming rigorous challenges, and meeting new successes. Robotics has the power to instill in middle school students a sense of purpose, achievement, and drive to follow their smallest roadblocks and biggest dreams in the world of science and beyond.