Studies show that by introducing children to the fields of science and technology when they are young then you will help them develop their passion for science. This was clearly evident during Science World’s week-long summer Robotics Club for campers, age 9 to 13.
The week began with an introduction to robots and computer programming. By day two, the campers had a chance to experiment with two robotics systems: LEGO® Mindstorms® and VEX®. Working in groups, they delegated tasks and shared the responsibility of building and programming their team’s robot.
After a chance to experiment with robot design and programming, they arrived at the final two days of the camp. At this time, they were placed into new groups, with the goal of designing robots to complete specific challenges during the Robot Showdown on the last day.
A variety of learning experiences occurred during the week. For instance, the campers engaged in social learning and had opportunities to meet new friends and interact with them both during the exploration time around TELUS World of Science and during the construction of their robots. Their group interactions helped to promote their overall learning, because their social interactions helped the campers build connections with peers and then later, collaborate with group members.
Additionally, the campers practiced problem-solving and experimentation skills when they encountered design obstacles or issues with their programming and had to reflect on possible solutions with their group members. It was clear that learning was a process that occurred over time for all campers and that they all displayed an awareness of the new skills they gained throughout the week, regardless of their ages and previous robotics experience.
The campers’ new skills and abilities coalesced during the final day. The teams worked diligently to fine tune their robots before sending teammates out for the final challenges. Then, in front their peers and families, each camper led one robot challenge. Teams cheered each other on and supported one another regardless of whether or not their robots were winning the challenges.
Interest for robotics continues to grow and the hope is that Science World will be able to start a senior robotics club, in addition to the current robotics programming available for 9 to 13 year olds. Science World also hopes to maintain an inclusive environment that motivates both boys and girls to join and to pursue their passions within robotics as well as their other science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) interests.
If you want to learn more about Science World’s Robotics Club and its upcoming sessions, please visit http://www.scienceworld.ca/robotics-club
For some robotics fun, check out this video http://www.ted.com/talks/bruno_maisonnier_dance_tiny_robots.html
Teachers—for lesson ideas on how to introduce robotics to your students, please visit: http://ed.ted.com/lessons/make-robots-smarter-ayanna-howard#watch
Cheng, C., Huang, P., & Huang, K. (2013). Cooperative learning in Lego robotics projects: Exploring the impacts of group formation on interaction and achievement. Journal of Networks, 8(7), 1529–1535. doi:10.4304/jnw.8.7.1529-1535
Scutt, H. I., Gilmartin, S. K., Sheppard, S., Brunhaver, S. (2013). Research-informed practices for inclusive science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classrooms: Strategies for educators to close the gender gap. Proceedings of the 2013 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA, June 23–26. Retrieved from https://www.stanford.edu/group/design_education/wikiupload/4/46/ASEE_2013_Scutt.pdf
Williams, K. (2013, June) Exit is the way in: All-girls competitive team excels in robotics. Women in Engineering Magazine, IEEE , 7(1), 41–44. doi: 10.1109/MWIE.2013.2251952