educational robotics

How to Get Started with Educational Robotics

Start building enthusiasm in your classroom and school by using educational robotics methods to teach STEM concepts.

The future of teaching STEM has arrived and it includes the use of educational robotics. Using educational robotics, students are challenged in each of the STEM concentrations. In addition to engaging students in STEM, educational robotics fulfills basic concepts of project-based learning and experiential learning.

Resources in Educational Robotics

No one expects all STEM teachers to be naturally fluent in educational robotics. Many resources are available to teachers who want to incorporate these tools into lesson plans, but need a bit of direction.

The Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, or REC Foundation, encourages students to explore STEM through educational robotics. By exploring the offerings of the REC Foundation, teachers can also find resources that can serve as foundations for curriculum. Its VEX IQ Challenge for elementary and middle-school children, VEX Robotics Competition targeting middle- and high-school students, and VEX U for college-aged robotics enthusiasts, collectively draw more than 16,000 teams, which originate from 40 countries to participate in over 1,350 challenges. The competitive spirit and teamwork that is forged through these resources not only prepares students for more advanced STEM study, but also teaches real-world lessons that they will carry into higher education and their careers.

educational roboticsThese life lessons are at the core of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a non-profit founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen. Abiding by principles of Gracious Professionalism and Cooperation, which encourage students to compete passionately, yet respectfully, the organization grooms children to seek answers with a voracious thirst for knowledge and value the work of their peers. Providing opportunities for students of all STEM levels, FIRST categories include the FIRST LEGO League Jr., for students ages 6 through 10 who seek an introduction to these subjects; FIRST LEGO League designed for participants in grades 4 through 8; FIRST Tech Challenge aimed toward grades 7 through 12; and FIRST Robotics Competition for high-school students.

Educational Robotics in Higher Education

To prepare students for the next level of education, or a STEM career, you can explore the resources at colleges and universities, which offer robotics courses. Reach out to colleges within the local area and invite professors to speak with students during an educational robotics lesson. Through contacting department heads, or professors, at the following schools, teachers can gain insight regarding the best methods to prepare students using educational robotics.

Carnegie Mellon
Columbia University
Drexel University
Long Beach City College 
Portland State University
University of Idaho
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Nebraska – Lincoln
University of Southern California
Utah State University
Vanderbilt University
Villanova University

Not only do these schools appear on NASA’s Robotics Alliance Project’s “List of Universities with a Robotics Program,” they are also STEM Jobs Approved Colleges.

Students who learn by using educational robotics can prepare for careers in many fields such as engineering, software design, and mechanics. While the STEM tools acquired through working with educational robotics are important, the team-building and leadership skills learned are priceless.

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Dorothy Crouch is a California-based writer who has covered many topics such as financial technology, travel and the pet-goods industry. Born and raised in New York City, she pursued her undergraduate degree at Hunter College and an M.S., Publishing degree through Pace University. Combining her love of learning and curiosity of the world, Dorothy studied abroad at Dublin, Ireland’s Trinity College, igniting a passion for travel. Dorothy’s thirst for knowledge and love of learning has led her to travel the world and pursue higher learning, including scuba certification. A lifelong animal lover, Dorothy lives in Los Angeles with her husband, their fish and two lovable, spoiled dogs.

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