Robotics and STEAM/STEM what is the connection? Robotics in education has been the “buzz ward” recently in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) education. Historically, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics have been taught in “silos,” or independent areas of study and disciplines. This is especially prominent in middle and high school due to departments. While departmentalized education may have been sufficient for a 20th Century Education and a foundation of public education, it is not sufficient a robust 21st Century Education. The ability to conceptually understand how all disciplines work cohesively is a necessary skill for 2020 and beyond. One effective tool to blend all of the disciplines is robotics.
I have been involved in robotics for over 10 years. I have personally witnessed the excitement as well as frustration that students, from kindergarten to high school and beyond experience, when they engage in robotics.
Robotics allows students to not only engage in multiple disciplines of STEAM, but also the soft and equally important skills of team work (collaboration), cooperation, critical thinking, communication, creativity, and as well as enhancement of their technology skills, technology literacy which includes coding. Robotics allow students to be achieve regardless of experience, ethnicity, or race. Robotics allow students with special needs to be authentically engaged in 21st Century Skills regardless of their diagnosis. Robots can be programmed to suit individual child’s skills offering STEAM education that is authentic, meaningful, and accessible.
Robotics is a prime avenue that allow entry points to historically underrepresented minorities in Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics. Anyone with desire and determination can be successful. Additionally, students often demonstrate their learnings and hard work through friendly robotic competitions which can result in recognition for themselves, their team, and their school.
I believe that it is extremely important for all students to be engaged in robotics as a key component to a 21st Century education. In addition to the before mentioned hard and soft skills, it enhances and promotes grit, perseverance and determination, important life skills in school and beyond. There are always robotic coding and engineering problems that students experience which can be frustrating but the ability to persevere builds character and citizenship. Effective coding, engineering, and student
lead interdisciplinary problem-solving is crucial to deeper learning and meaning. Allowing students to solve their own problems, with limited guidance, is essential for students to “gain insight” in the Engineering Design Process Cycle. Through the Engineering Design Process Cycle and continuous refinement of their robots and the robot codes, students develop engineering skills and intuition highly sought by technology and manufacturing professional organizations in 2020 and beyond.
Finally I believe that robotics is a great medium for STEAM instruction because it addresses all learning modalities, especially kinesthetic (hands-on) learning. Every learner has a dominate learning style: visual, auditory or kinesthetic (hands-on). Unfortunately, kinesthetic learning is usually not the preferred teaching style beyond primary elementary grades. Robotics is a meaningful and engaging tool to address kinesthetic learning in a meaningful and engaging way.
In conclusion, I firmly believe that the incorporation of robotics in education at the elementary, middle, high school, and beyond is an effective tool to not only engage students in STEAM and 21st Century Skills but essential during the technology revolution.