To be productive in employment and higher education, today’s students will have to be able to learn new technology systems on their own, on demand, and embedded in different kinds of situations. Surface-level familiarity with current applications (which is often the form that technology education takes in schools) won’t be sufficient. Students need a deeper foundation of conceptual understanding of information technology systems and productive working strategies for self-learning and trouble-shooting.
Most middle school students today are enthusiastic users and consumers of information technology. They hardly remember a time when there was no Internet, e-mail, cell phones, electronic toys, or digital media. Our objective in developing a curriculum that emphasizes active problem-solving with intelligent technology is to put students in the role of creating and designing with information technology—not just using and consuming it.
Why Robotics in Schools?
- Robots are and will continue to be historically significant. We’re obsessed with building machines to do things for us. And now, we’ve even started getting good at it and we need to prepare ourselves for a new age of robotic assistance.
- Robots permeate popular culture. Everybody can relate and react to the idea of robots in our society and the subject is a good imagination-catcher, even for kids who aren’t that interested in science or technology.
- Robots are already part of everyday life, like vacuum cleaners, mowers, mops, snow-sweepers, gutter-clearers, pool cleaners…
- The reality of robots over the coming decades is going to be far better, weirder, cooler, funnier and even scarier than fiction. We have social, ethical, moral, financial, practical and environmental obligations to understand their use and how the technology will impact on human societies and the rest of the natural world.
- Robotics is a fast-developing, wide-ranging field with enormous creative freedom at the moment. It’s also virtually unregulated. So there’s room for a lot of creativity, personal interest and passion.
- It’s cross-disciplinary. Robotics is a chance to learn about interaction, computer programming, physics, social and ethical dimensions, engineering, chemistry and biology not to mention persistence, curiosity, problem-solving and working in teams – critical skills in today’s education and jobs marketplaces.
- It’s going to be a growth industry. There are jobs and opportunities of all kinds associated with robotics, from entrepreneurship to software design, monitoring to art-making, engineering to writing, marketing and inventing.
- There’s great research going on in many countries that can be used to inspire kids about what’s possible and where the new frontiers of science are.
- Robotics is all about the future. We live in a complex world of big problems which need courageous, talented young people to help tackle them. A lot of young people are motivated by a desire to help others and save the planet, and some of the most significant problems that confront us can be at least partially solved with robotic technologies – such as saving lives during disasters, monitoring environmental resources, doing difficult and dangerous tasks so human lives are protected, and keeping us safe and healthy.
- Robotics is always fun! Anyone can learn it, and there are some great kits and programs out there for people of all ages. If you want to check out some specific examples then you could start here at Robodigx.
What do I need to get started?
All of the major national standards for science and technology education and most state and local standards now strongly advocate active hands-on curricula in the sciences, math, and technology. This kind of pedagogy requires materials and logistics that go beyond a text, paper and pencil, and blackboard. The Robodigx Learnium is a hands-on, minds-on curriculum that involves students directly in building their own robots, writing their own programs, and pursuing their own investigations and design problems. We are fortunate to be able to recommend affordable, readily available, user-friendly robotics kits. Although these robotic kits are designed as an informal educational product for children as young as 10, it is actually a very flexible and powerful system, and some colleges and universities use it in their introductory robotics courses. Although younger (and older) students generally enjoy playing around with the kits, in our experience, most of them do not discover or understand the more powerful features and potential of the hardware and software in the kit on their own. When used with an appropriate curriculum and the support of an informed teacher, students can have powerful learning experiences in the robotics environment that meet many of the technology, engineering (design), and physical science objectives of the most recent generation of standards.
What is in Robodigx curriculum package?
This unit has six complementary components:
- Teacher’s Guide
- Student Activity Sheets
- Building Instructions
- Teaching Transparencies
- Quick Start
- Technical Guide for Robotics Platform
- Program Library