Robotics is the Key to Success of Future Generations
We are all reading about how technology is changing the way we live, learn and work.
As a technology enthusiast it’s hard to ignore all the chatter related to the future and how areas such as robotics are going to be more disruptive than any of us may imagine.
This post is focused on what is quickly becoming obvious – Introducing Robotics into K-12 education has now become key for the success of future generations
Sixty-five percent of today’s students will be employed in jobs that don’t exist yet.
If this statistic doesn’t stop you in your tracks then you aren’t thinking about it enough!
A massive transformation is underway in the modern workplace. Particularly, the expansion of robotics and automation is clearly and significantly going to impact how our world operates. It’s critical that we prepare our children for this inevitable future with the tools available today.
By integrating robotics into K-12 curriculums now, we can provide children with the building blocks of the future. We can teach young minds how to express themselves with digital technologies, and condition them for computational thinking. Robotics platforms allow students to grow and learn with the applications that will shape the unknown sixty-five percent of jobs in the workforce they will join.
Today’s robotics platforms teach students how to think and express themselves with digital mediums, like code. Mitchel Resnick, professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab and director of the Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten research group, explains that coding is quickly becoming the new literacy. Resnik says that, in order for children to thrive in tomorrow’s society, young people must learn to design, create and express themselves with this new ‘language’.
The essential idea is that as kindergarten students create, play, and collaborate with wooden blocks and paint, they develop as creative thinkers. The same applies for code. In today’s fast-changing society, nothing is more important than learning to think and act creatively with technology. By integrating robotics platforms into K-12 classrooms, we can facilitate this development by introducing children to programming, such as coding, at an early age.
What’s more, robotics platforms teach children how to problem solve with digital technologies like never before. K-12 robotics solutions like EZ-Robot’s Builder Control Software – which is compatible with third party robot platforms and is supplied to schools across Canada and the U.S. by Advanced Education – provide students with a pathway for envisioning, designing and creating. The entire process, from the inception of the idea, to the creation of a physical walking, talking and reacting object, is in their hands. They can troubleshoot and correct their code during the building process to generate more favorable results.
This new hands-on application of digital problem solving is unprecedented. Students can experiment with programming and understand its effects on an intimate level. For example, when programming a humanoid robot with voice recognition, they can work to change and revise the robot’s code to achieve their goal– similar to the idea of building a sound structure with the right formation of LEGOS. This experimental process with programming teaches students how to solve problems with fundamental technological resources.
In addition to providing children with the technical tools and problem-solving savvy of tomorrow, robotics platforms enhance the understanding of traditional subjects, such as science and math, with new engaging experiences. Educators have expressed that robotics hardware and software helps to better explain and demonstrate difficult abstract concepts in science and math that previously were only taught with 2D textbooks. Many K-12 classrooms are already harvesting the power of visual learning to bridge the learning gap for tougher-to-teach subjects that will be critical in producing the engineers and scientists of tomorrow.
While many early-adopting schools are focusing on using robots to teach science, technology, engineering and math, there is also a growing initiative to enhance literacy. Educators are increasingly using robots to engage students in reading comprehension. For example, today’s robots read stories aloud, and ask students to answer them. They choose the correct answer from a pile of flashcards, and using visual recognition, the robot will then tell them if they are right or wrong.
One of the attributing factors in this enhanced understanding is the student interest it generates. Quite simply, robots are cool. They give instructors a new way to get students interested in learning about geography, understanding algebra, or answering questions to test reading comprehension. Robotics platforms boost engagement and clarify otherwise difficult concepts.
These robotics platforms serve as a means for which students can learn and experiment with the most cutting-edge technologies used in the world today. They prepare them with the type of thinking, creativity and expression that will shape their success in the future economy.
Likewise, robots provide educators with new ways in which to enhance subjects of critical subjects like math, science, technology and beyond. As technology evolves, so too will robotic applications. K-12 robotics will expand to teach students new ways to think, to program, and to grow. Today’s educators need to jump at the opportunity to help them do so.
By Mark McPherson, Vice President, Advanced Education