Science and technology is a pathway to career opportunities in the future. Engaging in technology activities when young can help to stimulate interest in those fields, develop mastery of necessary technologies, and energize the classroom.
As technology has progressed, the accessibility of robotics to the layperson has also improved. Now they are sophisticated enough to employ a multitude of sensors and motors as well as interface with a desktop computer to allow for robust programming experiences, all at a cost that makes them accessible to the classroom.
Children love a chance to show their peers (or teachers) what they’ve learned and what they can do, and the many different subsystems involved (structure, motion, sensors, programming, manipulation, etc.) allows more opportunities for them to find something that suits their particular interests. They also enjoy hands-on construction activities, so that aspect of robotics is accessible across the board; further, abilities in this area vary widely within an age group, which allows individuals to achieve mastery and demonstrate competence.
The Emergence of Robotics in Education
One of the next iterations of robotics education was LOGO’s collaboration with Lego, first controlled through personal computers, and later in the form of fully programmable bricks. This became what we know as Lego Mindstorms. Lego has continued to provide educational programs with its products for lower grade students, with a variety of robotic capabilities.
The primary of objective of educational robotics is to provide a set of experience to facilitate the student’s development of knowledge, skills, and attitudes for the design, analysis, application, and operation of robots. Robots have become a popular educational tool in some middle and high schools, as well as in numerous youth summer camps, raising interest in programming, artificial intelligence, and robotics among students. First-year computer science courses at several universities now include programming of a robot in addition to traditional software engineering-based coursework.
From approximately 1960 through 2005, robotics education at post-secondary institutions in U.S. Atook place through elective courses, thesis experiences and design projects offered as part of degree programs in traditional academic disciplines, such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering or computer science.
Since 2005, more universities have begun granting degrees in robotics as a discipline in its own right, often under the name “Robotic Engineering”.
The addition of a computer programming component allows for deeper investigations into issues such as remote sensing, control, and autonomous functioning. Indeed, many of the issues encountered when constructing and building a robot can promote a better appreciation for what Nature achieves in smaller, lighter packages. After all, the “smartest” computers can still be beaten by insects when it comes to robust sensory recognition, navigation, adaptation to changing environmental conditions, and “graceful” degradation in the face of incomplete sensory information or physical damage.
Studying robotics in the classroom has the potential to make computer programming a less abstract endeavor, engage youth who would otherwise not be interested in technology or engineering, and bring high-technology down to the practical, everyday level.
How Robots can be included in Learning
Catching a robot in motion gives a far better picture of how they operate than any static picture ever taken; podcasts or podcasts, wikis, and the like can provide a running record while also giving learners a chance to share information, collaborate, and discuss their projects.
Writing project journals, technical manuals, documentation, or basic instructions for classmates can all be incorporated into a robotics project, and the product can be posted on the Internet to add an additional technology element to the project.