Top 10 Reasons to Teach Robotics in Elementary School
Top 10 Reasons to Teach Robotics in Elementary School
As the school year quickly approaches, kids are seeing old friends, meeting new teachers, and walking into their classrooms for the first time. While kids and parents are sure to recognize some classes on this year’s schedule: math, reading, language arts, etc., they may be surprised at the ways science classes across the country are transforming.
Namely, robotics is becoming a more integral part of elementary science classrooms than ever before. And for good reason. In today’s world, even from a young age, it’s crucial students have the technical skills to strive in an increasingly digital world. Elementary science teachers of today are nurturing the web developers, computer technicians, civil engineers, and medical experts of tomorrow.
So what exactly are the reasons for teaching robotics at a young age? Let’s get more specific.
#1 It Energizes Learning
At ages 7, 8, and 9 years old, kids learn by doing. Science is a break in the daily classroom routine where kids should be encouraged to move around and make discoveries. When kids start assembling robots for the first time, they’ll be learning important lessons about motion, mechanics, friction, and coding. Students will hardly know they’re in the classroom. It’s a time to roll the sleeves up and dive in.
#2 It Breeds Creativity
When we think about creativity in the classroom, we often get stuck focusing on arts or language-based classes. But there are so much more opportunities for children to think creatively throughout their day.
Creativity comes in a lot of shapes and sizes. For elementary students learning to build and program their own robots, they’ll call on their creative thinking to problem solve complex issues as a group.
For many young learners, the notion that students are just as able to produce answers as the teacher may be new. In a traditional science classroom, elementary students often rely on teachers for direction and guidance when experiments go seemingly awry. However, robotics works in just the opposite way. Students will feel welcomed, and even encouraged, to reach further on their own, even if that means taking some extra time to get there.
#3 It Teaches Patience Under Pressure
Although hooking up the Nintendo or jumping online to check out the latest memes may provide some instant gratification, building robotics from scratch doesn’t always work like that.
Kids who experiment with robots quickly learn that whatever the end product: a robotic hand capable of gripping, a wirelessly programmable robot, or a motion censored robot, the creation process is complex. It’s just another reason teaching robotics to children is so important.
Elementary students will get a chance to work like real roboticists using a mix of teacher-designed protocol and trial and error experimentation.
#4 It Rewards Focus
Students will learn the importance of intense focus. While the attention needed for robotics may take some time to instill in students, teachers can do lots to help.
First off, teachers can introduce a “robot, hands-off, rest period,” whereby the students take a 5 or 10-minute break at any time their group becomes stuck while coding, for a significant amount of time. Secondly, teachers can guide students through a general time frame, so students don’t focus too much time on robot design and not enough time programming. Lastly, especially for young students, teachers can give a few guiding questions to help students contextualize the building process.
#5 It Instills Group Learning
A career in robotics means shared ideas. So when robots make their way into the classroom, kids will learn to do the same.
In small groups, students will work together to perfect design elements, test runs, and final coding modifications in a way that simulates real-life prototype design. Moreover, students with a variety of abilities and learning needs can benefit from the collaboration that lets their talents shine. Communicators, builders, facilitators, and problem solvers all have a place in elementary robotics classrooms.
#6 It Makes Kids Team Players
Team building has to start at a young age. Just another reason teaching robotics to students can change the way they learn in all academic subjects. Elementary students that can work together and find their strengths in the science lab can take those skills with them to middle school, high school, and beyond to the professional world. It’s as much about building social skills among peers as it is developing professional skills that are transferable to any career path.
#7 It Sets the Framework for a Love for Science
While kids are still in the early years of their education, the introduction they receive to science and math classes can have a resounding effect on the way they assess their interests and abilities in those subjects. Too often kids make up their minds early on if they’re “science smart” or not. So why not make those first introductory lessons as dynamic and engaging as possible?
Even if elementary school may be a little too early to start filling off college applications, students who get involved in robotics at earlier stages will have an invested interest by the time they reach high school and even college, which could lead to a whole range of career paths.
#8 It Gets Kids Asking the Questions
All too often teachers lead the class in asking students all the questions. But this is really only a memory game instead of calling on students to reason and defend their ideas.
Robotics provides elementary students with familiarity and novelty all at once. When students are given hands-on tasks, they’ll be able to tackle big questions about how robots are put together and what they’re capable of. That’s the kind of thinking that will get them invested in science for the long run.
#9 It Establishes Self-Reliance
Even in elementary school, students learn to establish a routine and take responsibility. They get used to turning in assignments, preparing for tests, and keeping their things organized.
Robotics classes are a great stepping stone to incrementally increase student’s self-reliability and independence. Students exhibit these behaviors as they set up in groups, take out all necessary materials, and begin to assign tasks to individual group members.
Teachers looking for ways to reinforce student responsibility can color code bins to each group, add labeling, and tape up daily job charts so everyone stays clearly organized.
#10 It Tells Kids Mistakes Are Okay to Make
Kids of all ages often feel pressure to get the answer right the first time. But science works differently. To see kids improve and become independent thinkers, they have to be allowed to make mistakes and think through what they can do differently the next time.
Teachers can assist students by handing out idea organizers that ask students to list their processes, the results, and what they would do differently the next time.
It’s never too early to get kids excited about science. Find out how you can get involved at your local robotics club or science class today.