Robotics software and kit helps teachers learn the content they teach

Robotics software and kit helps teachers learn the content they teach

  Our kids are our future. Everyone knows that the future is in their hands, and we also know that we want to leave those hands as capable as possible to handle the challenges they will inevitably encounter. That is the whole purpose of education: to ensure that they are prepared for this monumental task. We want them to enjoy school and find their passion, of course, but that still leaves us with the responsibility of deciding what is important for them to study. And before we can teach them, we need to teach our teachers. Training is difficult, especially in countries that don’t place a premium on this career. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to streamline the training process and look out for our kids.

Our world has changed in the past few decades to a technological, interconnected global society, and our education needs to reflect that. To that end, the US and many other countries have emphasized STEM education, which is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. While these are not the only important subjects, they will come to shape the coming years more and more. But we have a long way to go with our education program if we want to be able to compete on the global market. These subjects feed into fields that are growing extremely quickly. The skills they learn in STEM classes will be marketable and valuable. And in an age defined by information and technology, we have an obligation to help them understand and wield these twin powers. STEM education is not a luxury, but rather a necessity.

     To teach STEM classes to our students, we need STEM teachers. For young people entering the teaching position, many of these subjects will be second nature. But there are still many middle-aged teachers who perhaps feel left behind by all the recent progress. We all know someone who struggles to use their smartphone, get on their computer, or work a printer. So the training for these older teachers can be difficult and time-consuming. Some refuse, clinging to their overhead projectors and blackboards. But most make an effort to understand these new topics since they realize the importance of teaching our kids about these subjects.

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Teachers are our best resource when it comes to teaching classes like robotics.

Teachers are our best resource when it comes to teaching classes like robotics.

  Especially in the field of robotics, extra work is often needed to train teachers. There are older teachers who know math and science, but many who know engineering and technology aren’t necessarily teaching in elementary and intermediate education, staying in the private sector or using their advanced knowledge to get higher education jobs. But engineering and technology skills are precisely those needed for robotics. Being able to design and build the robot itself is important, as is the electronics and code that make the robot perform all the interesting tasks that we want it to do. It isn’t feasible to only use young teachers with some basic experience with technology, so we need a way to comprehensively, effectively, efficiently train our teachers.

     Some robotics companies are realizing this demand and making products that supply the schools with exactly what they need. Included in many basic robotics kits, perfect for beginners, comes a software package. (As an indication of how important technology is today, there are no longer paperback manuals and handbooks; everything is online.) This program walks the student through each and every step, teaching the basics. And although they often appeal to middle schoolers, the simplicity is quite enticing towards the technologically impaired. Every step in every project is set out. Of course, there is room for creativity, especially once the basic skills are acquired. While the kits are made for the students, they double as the perfect teaching aid. Teachers preview the lessons, master them at home or on their own time, and can answer any questions when they have to teach.

Even teachers have to be taught their material! This is especially true for rapidly-developing STEM fields.

Even teachers have to be taught their material! This is especially true for rapidly-developing STEM fields.

     But the advantages don’t stop there. Included in the software, besides all the step-by-step explanations and builds, is a manual that covers a huge range of topics. These can be large and small, from a library of specific commands you can do in the code, to an overview of electricity and computers. A few hours toying with the program, looking up answers in the manual, and getting accustomed to the product will make any teacher more comfortable and confident when they teach a robotics class.

     These products are the complete package. They are a great tool for any teacher struggling to find a STEM class, or a robotics class specifically, that they can comfortable teach. Our children’s education is too important to have anything less than the best. That is why these robotics its develop skills like constructing the robot and how to code, as well as some broader knowledge like introductory electronics and physics. It is a fun, interactive STEM class that will help get your student the proficiency they will need to navigate the world we are leaving them. Oh, and the robots you build will be pretty neat too!

Derek Capo