How Robotics Makes Your STEM Classes Fun
Educators and government experts agree that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields are extremely important for the current generation of students. Despite this, American eighth graders were beaten in STEM proficiency by their counterparts in 14 different countries. Unfortunately, this trend does not improve with age. The ACT College and Career Readiness Report states that only 29% of graduates are considered ready for college-level science, and just 43% are proficient enough in math.
While these facts are compelling for teachers, government officials and those who hire people with STEM expertise, they typically fall on students with a resounding thud. How can educators get their students interested in a technology math curriculum that will prepare them for future positions in high-paying fields?
Give STEM Students Projects Relevant to Their Interests
The biggest complaint students have about math and engineering is a perceived lack of relevancy. To get their interest, you must be able to answer the question “why should I care,” and talking about jobs or statistics means nothing to the average public school student. By the time they are old enough to be interested in careers and high paying salaries, it’s too late. A senior in high school cannot make up for years of ignored lessons. Teachers need to get their students interested in STEM long before they are old enough to care about economics.
Why Robotics is an Excellent Way to Get Students to Care about STEM Subjects
Robots are cool. This is the type of draw that will get students to suddenly care all about STEM. Even though a school will not have students build full-sized Transformers, students will be eager to develop the concepts they have seen on the big screen, in video games and on television. Most have likely wished they could bridge the gap between reality and fiction. This gives educators a great opportunity to offer students a benefit that they can use right away: the ability to make a cool robot. Here are a few ways making a STEM robot will provide great educational benefits:
- Robotics requires learning about engineering. Without knowing the relevant principles, the student will not be able to keep their robot standing or get it to move. The information learned for the project will form a foundation that can be used for many other engineering problems.
- Math is needed to figure out the operating aspects of the robot. The desire to make the robot work will motivate students to do math problems they would otherwise think of as hideously boring. Students will also learn how math applies to the real world.
- Robotics teams allow students to work with each other on goal-oriented projects. This will help them apply teamwork to real-world scenarios rather than just sports.
- Robotics competitions provide much more motivation to learn and attain excellence than simple test scores. Everyone loves to win, while only a few students are truly internally motivated by the idea of getting good grades.
- Robotics, as a whole, is a technological subject. Making robots will get students familiar with technology and how it works together.
Even though school-level robotics cannot compete with what Hollywood comes up with, it will definitely get students interested. The idea of building their own robots will have them interested in their lessons for the duration of the project. If competitions are added, the effect will be amplified even more.
Once the students graduate, the information they learned during their robots STEM projects will give them a great head start on related subjects. Since they had fun while learning and the project made the lessons immediately relevant, they’ll be much more likely to remember what they learned even years later. Perhaps best of all, they’ll remember their robotics projects fondly rather than thinking of their STEM lessons as irrelevant drudgery. This will motivate them to take a closer look at STEM fields as adults and perhaps choose a more advanced career path than they had originally considered.