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Re-imagining STEM education through robotics

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By eeNews Europe

Step one: getting in touch with reality

One of the most significant challenges to STEM education is that many edtech resources do not adequately support the reality of the science, technology, engineering, or maths fields. Coding is a popular edtech solution however, the real-world applications extend far beyond this.

As a society, we are becoming increasingly reliant upon robotics – it is undeniably one of the fastest growing sectors, both professionally and economic – and STEM education needs to reflect these advances. With this in mind, it makes sense to integrate robotics into the learning frameworks of K12 education as it not only develops the building blocks in the early stages of learning but provides ample opportunities for scaling up, as students progress.

 

Step two: to code or not to code?

Coding is undoubtedly a valuable skill for pupils to learn however, the potential that can stem from this knowledge base is exponentially increased when educators move beyond the computer screen.

This, and future generations of students have grown up in the tech age – computers, smart devices, and automation are everywhere they turn however, there is little understanding of how these processes and devices come into their own. They are aware of the final output but not the underlying philosophies or hardware. Re-imaging STEM education is crucial in overcoming this knowledge deficit and hands-on resources like the Boson Starter Kit, are a great place to start.


As educators, we know that students learn more effectively when they are actively engaged with the lesson plan, and our research and development carried out in schools have only reinforced this approach. Activities like assembling walking robots, for younger pupils, or analysing meteorological observations with a weather station kit, for college students are great solutions to this challenge; inspiring greater inquisitiveness, imagination, and collaborative work for everyone involved in the projects.

What’s more, by implementing the basics of programming, these resources also develop other vital skills for STEM education including critical thinking and problem-solving.

Step three: come one, come all

Fostering a sense of enthusiasm among students is an ongoing challenge for STEM education; as leaders invested in the advancement of STEM, we need to think outside the square. This not only means, making the lesson plans engaging and diversified but also finding ways to make the subjects more inclusive.

Designing activities that strike a chord with both male and female students is key and a significant aspect of this is finding resources that are compatible with other elements like LEGO blocks and circuit kits. This allows students to overlap their own existing areas of interest with STEM which, more times than not, will instil greater enthusiasm for the subject areas.

Another way to overcome this hurdle is to ensure products introduced in the classroom are user-friendly. Some edtech solutions that have heeded the call for STEM resources, are jargon heavy and require extensive user manuals however, robotics kits are intuitive and easy-to-use.

Finally, trying to reach a wider audience, computer, coding, and robotics clubs are an invaluable way to make STEM education inclusive, and are, importantly, free from the bonds of curriculum and assessment frameworks.


Step four: keeping pace with advances

Acknowledging the rise of STEM in the workforce and in education is one thing however, keeping pace with its rapid advances is another story. An industry that is frequently, and often rightly, bound by rules and regulations, the education sector is often left a step behind the latest technologies.

Overcoming this is difficult however, it can be eased by choosing resources that are easily scale-able and designed to grow alongside students’ increasing attainment levels.

With this in mind, a must in every STEM learning toolkit is micro:bit accessories. Not only do these form the building blocks of countless resources, extension products like DFRobot’s macqueen mini robot provide simple and practical ways to increase learning opportunities and provide teachers and students with infinite possibilities.

 

About the author:

Ricky Ye is CEO of DFRobot – www.dfrobot.com


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