Companies are offering, and schools are considering, more options for using robots in primary education as research indicates children are capable of STEM learning at an early age.
KinderLab Robotics CEO Mitch Rosenberg said much of STEM education has focused on late elementary and middle school, but robots, which offer physical rather than abstract learning, are uniquely capable of getting younger students excited about STEM.
The most important thing, according to Rosenberg, is to get the entire student population involved in STEM early, before some students decide STEM is not for someone like them. One way to do that is to integrate STEM into other subject areas and to show how building something physical and mechanical can connect to art, design and social issues, while offering the opportunity to learn skills like sequencing and conditional learning.
A KinderLab Kibo robot kit includes a blank robot form with additional parts that range from wheels that click-in to wooden blocks with pictures representing software code that can be assembled in sequence for the robot’s sensors to read.
RoboKind, best known for social robotics and robots4autism, is introducing a new platform, Robots4STEM, which teaches students how to program a humanoid robot using visual programming tools. The coding and programming self-paced course requires no earlier knowledge of the topic from the teacher and comes with a curriculum guide that includes vocabulary and assessment resources.
Robokind COO Greg Firn said students in grades 2-5 will be the primary targets for Robots4STEM, with the earlier the start the greater the potential. Firn said students can build computational thinking and collaboration skills using the program just one hour per week.
The robot in Robots4STEM is called Jett. He is described as the twin brother of Milo, the robot that anchors Robokind’s flagship robots4autism offering. Milo is in use in 290 school districts and the company has delivered more than 250,000 lessons to autism spectrum disorder students.
For more information on educational resources being acquired by schools, check out Simba Information’s report Publishing for the PreK-12 Market, 2017-2018.