4 reasons educational robotics brings STEM alive
Robotics can provide students with more engaging and relevant hands-on STEM lessons, compared to traditional modes of instruction.
“Why teach educational robotics? It allows you to prepare student to participate in the knowledge-based economy,” said Jason McKenna, a former teacher who is now the director of global education strategy at VEX Robotics, during a presentation at the Future of Education Technology Conference® in January.
“I found out that what I always tried to teach in the classroom became much easier with educational robotics,” McKenna said. “Robotics is the solutions as oppsoed to challenge in everything you want to do with STEM and project-based learning.”
Here are several reasons McKenna gave to add robotics at all grade levels:
Coding and other robotics projects more readily teach students that there are multiple and iterative ways to solve problems.
The process also makes students more comfortable with failure. “Students need the ability to understand their first answer probably won’t be right,” McKenna says.
2. Career preparation
The skills required for the workforce are changing rapidly. Employers want students who are competent in teamwork, creativity and—most pertinent to robotics—computational thinking.
More from DA’s FETC: How to keep all hybrid learners invested in your lessons
Computational thinking guides students in testing multiple solutions while overcoming errors and organizing information. Robotics also teach students to master hardware and software, while also learning real-world math and science concepts, McKenna said.
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“Before, students would learn something in one context and take an assessment in the same context,” McKenna said. “Students have to able to transfer learning to all different types of context, and students have do that collaboratively and in very unstructured situations.”
3. Truly integrating STEM
Robotics, more than most subjects, allows teachers to blend science, technology, engineering and math.
“Robots are ubiquitous, robots are found all around you,” McKenna says. “Being able to teach educational robotics is really teaching about the world around you.”
4. Deeper student engagement
Teachers who have discovered robotics is an ideal platform for authentic inquiry, which is the best way to help students develop 21st workforce skills, McKenna says.
Robotics also motivates students to pursue STEM careers “before they form negative views of STEM or their own STEM abilities,” McKenna says.
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