Robots Bring Life to STEM Education

By IGI Global on Feb 3, 2012
Robots which can sense, think, and act form an increasing component of our modern society. In the United States, government entities such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have invested in bringing robotics into the classroom.

"The time is now for capitalizing on the large interest and popularity of robotics and to continue the push to provide our children with the skills and abilities derived from hands-on learning…by giving them every opportunity to touch, feel, design, assemble, program, and operate the robots of tomorrow," argues U.S. Astronaut Clayton C. Anderson in the Foreword for one of IGI Global's latest releases, Robots in K-12 Education: A New Technology for Learning.

Edited by Bradley S. Barker, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA; Gwen Nugent, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA; Neal Grandgenett, University of Nebraska-Omaha, USA; and Viacheslav I. Adamchuk, McGill University, USA, this essential reference explores the theory and practice of educational robotics in the K-12 formal and informal educational settings, providing empirical research supporting the use of robotics in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) learning.

"The editors come from diverse backgrounds including engineering, research and evaluation, STEM education, and youth development, and have implemented several large-scale educational robotics programs funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and other private and public partners," note the editors in their Preface. "This book provides additional evidence for the impact of educational robotics on learning and attitudes and provides evaluation models and examples intended to move the field forward," they write. "The editors purposely requested that chapter authors provide detailed research and evaluation designs and measurements, often asking for implementation strategies, protocol, and to report statistical tests when appropriate."

Educational robots are currently used by a variety of classrooms, after school and at competitions, according to the editors. One university, the University of St. Francis, recently boasted about its hands-on course utilizing the popular Board of Education Robot by Parallax, Inc. "In lieu of a textbook this spring, USF students enrolled in Robotics, COMP 494, are using the Board of Education Robot, or the Boe-Bot for short," states the University of St. Francis website. "Students are learning to construct, test and calibrate their robot and program it to maneuver its surroundings."

Professors Barker et al. argue in their Preface that "Robots also have tremendous potential to support learning by actively involving students in experiences that tap science, technology, engineering, and mathematical concepts and skills." At the University of St. Francis, the college course will culminate in a "Robot Olympics," where, if programmed correctly, the Boe-Bots "will be able to navigate through a maze and the different environmental elements," according to the university website. Parallax's website rates its Boe-Bot as "suitable for anybody over 12 years of age."

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This book would make an excellent addition to any university library. Click here to recommendRobots in K-12 Education to your university librarian.

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