Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Teaching STEM Skills with Robots

Good article from T.H.E. Journal ... YES, teaching STEM with robots is exciting and effective... a great way to get kids on board and have their natural passion for things drive their STEM learning... This approach works with LEGO Robotics and others, too... 


 "Teaching STEM Skills with NAO Robots

Middle school educator Frank DiMaria uses robots as an interdisciplinary tool to help students learn problem-solving and gain skills they'll need in the future.

Technology teachers face a number of challenges within the STEM fields, like teaching students how to solve problems and providing them with the skills they'll need to succeed at non-scripted jobs or jobs that may not exist yet.

"There are a lot of jobs where you have to figure out the answer to a problem on your own. Your boss gives you a task and says, 'go do it.' I think the importance of STEM is teaching kids how to identify a problem and design a solution to that problem on their own," said Chad Allen, STEM Coordinator, Fort Mill School District, Fort Mill, SC.

To afford Fort Mill School District students the opportunity to learn and hone the STEM skills needed to succeed in the 21st century, Brian Spittle, our director of technology services, searched for an engaging platform. He wanted a platform that was approachable by elementary and middle school students and that could introduce them to computer programing. He found that platform in Aldebaran's NAO robots.
"One of the things we liked about the NAO is that it is open-ended. It doesn't have to be a rote kind of curriculum. You learn the basics, and then you can used your creativity to really have it do what you want it to do. The student has a lot of flexibility," said Spittle.

The NAO robot (pronounced "now") allows me as a middle school technology teacher to introduce my students to computer programing while they also learn a variety of skills related to STEM. For example, when my students program the robot to walk a geometric shape, they are applying skills they learned in other classes. When they write code for the robot they are applying computer science and basic technology skills, but they are also thinking logically, like mathematicians or engineers.

"Students have to design solutions to problems," said Allen. "It goes beyond algorithms and mathematical thinking. A big part of it is logic and teaching kids how to think. The programing and math go hand-in-hand because there is some computation involved in programing. But I also think there is logical thinking, teaching kids how to think logically about the next step in their coding with the robot," said Allen.

Learning by Failing
One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching with NAO robots is stepping back and observing as students tackle a problem. By its very nature computer programing requires steadfast trial and error. Students write code and test it over and over again until it is flawless.

"A big part of STEM is to allow students to problem solve and to fail. That's important. You have be able to see what's working and what's not working and go back and redesign. That's a huge part of STEM," said Allen. "Failure is OK sometime and we need to teach kids that, because that's the only way you're going to become successful.... It's not always how things happen but how you deal with adversity. That's a huge part of what this kind of stuff is," said Allen.

Clearly NAO robots are ideal for teaching STEM skills, but creative, technically savvy teachers can integrate NAO robots into any number of subjects.."

Read the full article at its source: https://thejournal.com/articles/2016/03/17/teaching-stem-skills-with-nao-robots.aspx 


Click on book cover for information

Click on book cover for information
Getting Started with LEGO Robotics. Anyone who works with kids can do LEGO Robotics, a rich and highly motivating platform for important STEM Learning! (surprisingly affordable, too) This books explains it all!

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