STEAM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are some of the most important. These days, they also with the most job opportunities. So why aren’t more students getting involved in these areas? There are several factors, but one reason is that many learners struggle to grasp STEAM concepts in the early grades. As a result, many of them get bored and lose interest in these subjects.
The solution? Robots.
I know what you’re thinking, but hear us out. Robots might actually hold the key to teaching learners about STEAM concepts in a fun, interactive way.
First off, what do we mean by robots? Robots come in all shapes and sizes, but most classroom robots tend to be small machines with very basic, built-in processors. They might look like a little car with a screen on it, or they might be a bit more human and be able to talk. Most of them are customizable and can be programmed by learners to perform various tasks. It’s not hard to imagine why this might come in handy in a classroom.
Here are 5 reasons why every school should have its own robot.
Robots make concepts easier to understand:
A lot of STEAM concepts are difficult to grasp at first. Anyone who’s ever sat in a geometry class and not known what was going on can relate. Robots can help by representing these tough concepts in a tangible way.
Programming is notoriously abstract, but with a robot, you can see how coding actually works — and in real-time. For instance, you could program a robot to say “Hello”, and then see immediately if your code worked or not. This makes for a more hands-on learning experience, where students can see the results of their work in real life. (It also makes what they learn seem more practical and relevant.)
With robots, students can integrate knowledge from multiple subjects:
On top of being a way to teach tough concepts, robots can also help learners bring ideas together from various subjects. This kind of knowledge integration represents strategic, higher-order thinking — a key 21st-century skill.
For example, you would need to apply maths and physics together to make a robot walk, jump, or do the ‘robot’ dance (Was that joke terrible? We’re sorry.)
Robots can provide a more inclusive learning experience:
Robots may also help to promote inclusivity in the classroom. For instance, they show some promise as a way to assist autistic learners, who might have a harder time with face-to-face learning. By providing a fun, non-threatening learning experience, robots might also encourage more girls to become interested in STEM subjects. This is vital, as girls are generally underrepresented in these areas.
Robots help prepare kids for the future:
Technology is only going to become a bigger and bigger part of our lives. Robots can prepare learners for this by helping them to feel comfortable around new technology. Additionally, interacting with robots teaches kids to master new technical systems on their own. In a world that relies more and more on technology, this is a skill that learners will need wherever they go.
And the final reason:
Robots are fun!
Robots can be a great way for kids to enjoy themselves while learning. So far, research has found that learners are generally enthusiastic about having a robot in the classroom. It’s no surprise. Who wouldn’t want to do their maths homework alongside WALL-E or R2-D2?
It’s clear that schools need to get more students interested in STEAM subjects, and robots might be the perfect tool to help do just that. That’s why Thought is leading the field in terms of bringing robotics to South African classrooms. The opportunities are there, and the technology is ready. All we need to do, as teachers and learners is to join the club.