Rather than being an outrageous element of our own imaginations, as well as the imaginations of film makers and script writers, robotics is being included worldwide in school programmes to teach Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).
Below are a few reasons why South Africa should get with Robotics:
1) Robotics engages students in applying STEM concepts with a real world application:
According to the University of Pennsylvania “One of the most frequent and widely supported calls for change in contemporary education is for newly envisioned curriculum that integrates math, science, and technology content and skills.” While Robotics initially seems a bit mysterious to those who aren’t familiar with it, it adds meaning to STEM learning. Robotics provides a fun, inspiring, but yet challenging method for kids to apply these concepts in a satisfying way. It also encourages critical reasoning, problem solving, creativity and team work. Perhaps more importantly, it introduces our kids to a deeper understanding of how technology really works, preparing them for a future that will become increasingly technologically complex.
2) Robotics is helpful in education because students find it tangible and exciting
According to researchers from the ACU School of Education, children who use robotics in the classroom exhibit increased engagement in their education as well as greater development of literacy skills, numeracy skills and interpersonal skills (McDonald & Howell, 2012).It also encourages them to create and innovate as they learn to build things that do things.
Feedback from learners engaged in robotics support this, these are a few comments from kids in interviews conducted by John Heffernan, a Technology Co-ordinator for a US school district:
It’s different because you don’t usually engineer things in school. It is more hands on than the rest of our school work. [Hand’s on] is more fun and, in certain places, it makes it easier to learn. Grade 5 Girls Team 1
Absolutely [different from other schoolwork.] It’s [robotics] more interactive because mostly what we are doing in school is paperwork. With this you get to experiment, instead of just doing something, like math, you got a question, you figure it out. With this you can like, change it up, experiment. Grade 6 Boy 1
I didn’t think you would use all that math and science to build that robot. Grade 6 Girl 2
3) South African children are being left behind
Countries such as the States, Australia, Korea, India, Japan, UK and many European countries all include robotics in their school curriculum. As President Barack Obama commented at the launch of America’s “Educate to Innovate” initiative, “As President, I believe that robotics can inspire young people to pursue science and engineering”, and going on to say “And that leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today, especially in those fields that hold the promise of producing future innovations and innovators. And that’s why education in math and science is so important.”
If one simply thinks of it logically, children enjoy doing things when they learn. What better way to learn science and technology then building you’re very own robot? We certainly think so.
Go to www.edro.co.za to find out more about our robotics workshops and programmes for schools.