Robot Plans for Getting Quiet Kids Involved
Robot Plans for Getting Quiet Kids Involved
Word’s out that using robots in the classroom can change the way kids look at science. But many teachers may be left asking themselves, How do I bring robotics into my classroom in an effective way?
Teachers of young children face a number of obstacles in the classroom. Some kids come into science class already with the perception that science isn’t for them, and this is something science teachers have to try to overcome. Meanwhile, teachers are also dealing with challenges like large classroom sizes, limited classroom funds and resources, and motivating quiet kids to break out of their shell and get involved.
But robots don’t have to be a hassle. In fact, teachers should use robotics in the classroom as an opportunity to shake things up and change the habitual daily routine that can sometimes make kids tune out.
Even young kids can get involved in robotics today. Here are some robot lesson plan tips for kids as part of an introductory course.
Kids who work in groups to build their robots will need to communicate clearly and support all team members. For young elementary age students, this may be one of the first times they work together as a group to build something together. As a team, kids will build better, more collaborative robots. There are several activities the classroom instructor can use to teach young kids about the importance of teamwork and get quiet kids talking too.
In one simple activity, kids are broken up into teams, and all teams are given the same building material. This can be any item from building blocks, to paperclips, popsicle sticks, or building blocks. The teacher will then set a specific objective, like who can build the tallest tower, or the strongest bridge, or the most resistant wall. Though the task at hand may seem straightforward, teams will have to work together to brainstorm, design, and execute.
Another activity is often referred to as “Save the Egg.” In this activity, students will again break up into teams, this time, to build a net or supportive encasing to prevent their egg from dropping as it’s tossed from a second-story stairwell. This activity will teach kids that more than one design concept can be a good one, and that clear communication will often produce the best result.
For this last activity, teachers can choose to break students up into teams, or to address the class as a whole. Before the class period, the instructor will map out on the floor a maze using masking tape. At the start of the class, all students will be instructed to move to the start of the maze. The first student in line will be blindfolded, and it’s up to the rest of the class to guide each student through the maze using simple left, right, straight, and stop commands. To keep things from getting out of hand, the teacher can assign a single student to call out directions to the blindfolded student. To make things competitive, the teacher can time teams or pairs to see who can most quickly complete the maze without moving outside the taped line. During this exercise, students will learn the importance of speaking with precision in a way that’s easy for the blindfolded student to understand.
Starting a Conversation
As students begin to learn about robots, seeing photos, watch competitions and tutorials online, it’s natural that their curiosity will be sparked, and they’ll come to the next class with a series of questions.
Classroom teachers should use these questions to fuel classroom discussions. Elementary students are likely to ask questions like, What can robots do around the house? How do you tell a robot what to do? Is the robot really thinking on its own? What kind of jobs get to work with robots every day?
All of these questions are legitimate, and teachers should feel free to answer as a large group since many students are likely to have many of the same questions. Yet, some quiet kids may be shy to speak up.
In the weeks leading up to the robotics workshop, the classroom teacher may choose to set up a question box in the room. This is a great chance for kids to ask anything they want, without feeling silly or embarrassed. Better yet, it’ll get their wheels turning about robots before they roll up their sleeves and get to work. Meanwhile, teachers are getting important feedback about where their students’ knowledge on the topic lays and more specifically what their curiosities are.
Robots All Around Us
Sometimes students can get a bit of tunnel vision about their math and science classes at school, convinced that the material they learn in class is not applicable to the real world. Of course, when it comes to robotics, this could not be less true. Robots are all around us, performing jobs we sometimes take for granted. Students who can appreciate the role robots play in out everyday lives are more likely to be motivated when creating their own prototypes.
Leading up to the workshop, teachers may introduce a “Robots in the News” section of class where one or a couple students (depending on class size) must present a new development in robotics to the class. This could be in the form of a newspaper clipping, a video, or a series of photos online that explain what the robot does and how it gets the job done. This will give students a better context about what’s already going on in the robotics world, and how they can contribute to it. At the same time, they’ll be getting practice presenting in front of a large group.
For teachers worried about limited school funds or resources, there’s a plethora of material online to teach kids about robots, especially when it comes to coding. Since kids as young as elementary age are already so accustomed to using a computer, tablet, and smartphone technology in their everyday lives, this will seem like a no-brainer next step.
These sites help kids learn about coding in a fun and dynamic atmosphere. Without even knowing it, they’ll be developing basics in coding that will soon help them to program their own robots
Here are just a few of the leading coding sites for kids: