The Future of STEM Education: How Robotics is Changing the Classroom
As the world of education advances, educators find themselves considering some interesting questions. How do we adapt to these inevitable changes? What are some innovative additions we can bring to the classroom? Is it time to let go of traditional practices and enter a new age of learning? These questions are particularly relevant when considering the field of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
There’s no hiding from the fact that this specific area of education is evolving at a rapid pace. New innovations are being brought to the table, allowing teachers to consider different strategies that they can introduce to the classroom. After all, even before the pandemic, education appeared to be leaning further into technology. Now, it’s even more evident that the goalposts have been shifted.
One strand that’s seeing significant growth and development is the integration of robotics into the classroom. Robotics is not only changing the way students learn STEM subjects, but it’s also equipping them with valuable tools that can be brought into the future workforce. So, why exactly are more and more educators keen to fit robotics into their curriculum?
Linking the classroom to the real world
Sometimes, students find ideas that they pick up in the classroom to be abstract and difficult to comprehend. When learning something by rote, or reading from a textbook, the contextual significance can be lost. By incorporating robotics into STEM education, students are able to apply the theoretical concepts they learn in class to real-world problem-solving.
For example, students can use robots to program and design solutions for real-world challenges, such as environment monitoring, disaster relief, and medical diagnosis. These projects allow children to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaborative skills that will bolster their arsenal for any future professional prospects.
Preparing students for the future
On the back of this, professional prospects are looking very different compared to what was available a decade or two ago. For instance, coding has seen a significant increase in popularity in recent years. This is due to a number of factors, including the growing importance of technology in society and the increasing number of job opportunities in the tech industry. And, fortunately, many schools have bought into coding’s growing prevalence. From early education to university, there are a range of opportunities available for students looking to hone their skills here.
The Sphero programmable robot
This is for good reason. The demand for coding skills in the job market has skyrocketed, as more and more companies are relying on technology to run their operations. As a result, skilled programmers are in high demand. Robotics is an effective introduction to these skills. One great example is the Sphero programmable robot. Such handy little devices are becoming increasingly popular in the classroom as a tool for STEM education. These small, accessible robots can be programmed to move, light up, and respond to various commands, making them a fun and engaging way to teach a variety of subjects.
Robotics is engaging
No two students learn the same way. Every individual has a different learning style, and effective teachers know how to account for this. However, it can still be challenging to ensure every student is retaining information successfully. Fortunately, an advantage of robotics in STEM education is that it helps to engage students who may not be as interested in traditional classroom learning.
Robotics is a hands-on, interactive, and often collaborative activity that can capture the attention of students who may not be as excited about reading from a textbook or listening to their teacher list instructions. This engagement can lead to increased motivation, engagement, and a deeper understanding of the material in general.
Robotics is accessible for all ages and abilities
When considering coding and programming through robotics, it would be forgivable to think that these are complex, difficult subjects to introduce to the classroom. However, that’s far from the case. Through its malleable nature, robotics can be scaled to include any student, from those in early education and beyond. If introduced to robotics at a young age, children will gain a solid foundation of understanding of the subject and the skills that come with it.
As children get older, robotics can continue to be a valuable tool for learning. In secondary school, robotics programs often become more advanced, with students working on more complex projects and using more powerful programming languages. These programs can help students develop a deeper understanding of engineering and computer science concepts, and can also prepare them for careers in these fields.
Robotics promotes creativity
Students who are given the opportunity to explore learning freely, using their imagination to conjure something innovative and useful, will be more likely to have positive learning outcomes. Certain traditional methods of teaching may leave children feeling as if they have limited ownership over their learning journey. This should be avoided at all costs. Explorative learning, alongside the fostering of creativity, should be valued in the classroom.
With the introduction of a robot to the classroom, students are able to jump straight in and get involved autonomously or collaboratively. The important thing here is that they have been given the reins - they’re in control of the lesson’s outcome. Teachers may set a specific learning intention, but how the student reaches the finish line is up to them. By brainstorming, solving problems, and taking hold of their imaginations, children will find themselves in the ideal, engaging learning environment.
The way forward
So, it’s no secret that the introduction of educational robots to the classroom comes with an array of benefits. With the educational sphere aligning itself with new, innovative ways to approach teaching and learning, robotics has proven to be a priority for a huge collection of schools. From preparing students for the future workforce to providing an accessible way to involve children of all ages and abilities, robotics is a well-rounded, engaging addition to any classroom.