STEM Kits for Elementary Students to Enhance Robots Use in the Classroom

STEM Kits for Elementary Students to Enhance Robots Use in the Classroom

When you think of the ideal science classroom for elementary students, you picture test tubes bubbling, hover crafts spinning, and fine-tuned microscopes picking up on the smallest details of the tiniest organisms. The world of science lends itself to active exploring, questioning, problem-solving, reasoning, and concluding.

Students who step inside a science lab should feel a shift in their learning experience—a departure from other core academic subjects tied closely to textbook material. The goal is to foster learning in a way that is self-driven through exploration and creativity, a thirst to find answers to the difficult questions science presents.

On the other hand, teachers face a separate set of obstacles. They’re faced with the dilemma of how best to make their classrooms dynamic, energized, and to engage the most students who each have their own learning needs. Large class sizes and short class periods can add another tricky dimension for teachers who feel constrained.

Luckily, science lends itself to hands-on learning far beyond the pages of any typical textbook. The sky is the limit when it comes to creating energized lessons that simultaneously cement tough concepts.

More teachers are turning to STEM kits for elementary students as a way to get their students plugged into science in a new way and keep learning fun.


Learning With All Senses

STEM kits for elementary students in the classroom call on many different senses, meaning that students with various learning styles become actively engaged. Some students are aural (auditory/musical) learners while others are verbal (linguistic) learners who pick up on information taught through classroom discussion based on the textbook content. However, most students, especially young learners, learn by doing: by touching, building, and testing. They’re kinesthetic learners at heart, and that’s exactly where robotics come in.

When students use robotics, the training wheels come off. In group settings, without heavy guidance from the instructor, students alone must determine how to build their robot effectively and efficiently. There’s no time to be day-dreaming or bored in the back of the classroom. Students learn to take responsibility for their team’s robot design, and also reap the rewards of a job well done when they present to their peers.

Classroom Management

STEM kits for elementary students as robotics also offer a unique solution to teachers’ sometimes tricky problem of classroom management. Besides large class sizes, teachers must also deal with factors such as a lack of materials or a few high-energy students that can send the rest of the class into a frenzy…

This is the perfect opportunity to change the dynamics for students and teachers alike. Robotics let kids simultaneously move and collectively direct their focus onto the task at hand. No matter the child, even those who face learning difficulties or have trouble holding attention, all kids need the opportunity to get out of their chair and dig into a new project. When kids are allowed to move more freely about a classroom, they’re already changing the way their mind thinks about science for the day.

For young learners especially, changing the pace and even the physical classroom set up is important in keeping each new lesson fun and fresh.

Teaching Students to Take the Initiative

As students tackle the designing process, they’ll instinctively begin to ask scientific questions among their groups as they carry out a trial-and-error robotics process. Instead of the teacher facilitating these questions, students will have to navigate for themselves. They’ll be asking questions like, “Can we program this robotic arm to fully function on its own? Who will plan? Who will construct? Who will program? How will we carry out this process from A to B?

These STEM kit robotics not only change the classroom dynamic for the day, but students also begin to reimagine how fun the class (and science at large) can become. Little by little, as robotics kits are implemented into regular classroom learning, teachers will build a positive repertoire with their students and students will be motivated to work hard. When students can trust that their teacher is always coming up with new, innovative class activities to drive a class concept home, students are more likely to put in 100% of their effort too.

In fact, teacher-student relationships are not the only ones that begin to change when robotics are introduced in the classroom. Classroom engagement is also about students learning to work effectively with each other in a team setting to achieve a goal.


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Making Teamwork a Priority

As a team, students must collaborate to determine their own scientific procedure. All students are given equal parts to contribute and be heard. Many teachers struggle to bring out shy students and involve them in larger classroom activities. STEM kit robotics offers an interesting solution to this problem as students must sell their ideas to their peers. In smaller group settings, many students will feel like less is at stake and will be more comfortable sharing ideas in a safe environment.

When students present their findings to the class, they’ll have to talk through the process, justify their claims, and will ultimately gain a deeper understanding of their own building process.

Lastly, when students get excited about science in the classroom, they begin to picture a future with science in it. Especially as students reach secondary school, it’s important to introduce them to new subject matter that maybe they’ll go on to study at the university level. Some students may even go on to pursue careers in related fields—as engineers, as computer scientists, physicists, and beyond.

The world of science opens up for kids when boundaries and limitations are thrown out the window. Robotics gives kids that type of freedom to rethink what they’ve always assumed science to be.

So teachers, fret not, robotics can help in big ways when it comes to engaging all types of your students, getting them to focus, to work in a team, and to think about where science can take them in the future.

And students, get excited. Your adventure into the world of science and technology is just beginning.

Derek Capo