Robotics Conversation Continues

This week, we continue our conversation with Donald McCoy about the many ways that Robotics can inform and inspire students and educators alike, when it comes to STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) curricula.

Mr. McCoy is a retired engineer whose second career focuses on helping educators make the most of robotics in their classroom instruction. This week, he shares resources and advice for teachers who want to use robotics to energize their programs.

What advice do you have for teachers who would like to gain access to robotics resources for their classrooms?

My advice for both teachers and administrators is to contact their local university K-12 Outreach programs. Many higher education programs are providing professional development in these areas. They are also providing after-school and weekend academy programs for middle- and high-school students. Government programs sponsored by NASA and the National Science Foundation are also supporting professional development for teachers. One example is NASA NEON (NASA Educators Online Network).

What other specific resources are available to assist teachers?

There are many resources available supporting STEM and robotics programs. A few that are directly linked to higher-education institutions include the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy where teachers will find numerous on-line lesson plans, among other great resources. Likewise, the Tufts University Center for Engineering Educational Outreach offers curriculum content, teacher support resources, newsletters and other activities.

If I am a teacher looking at the coming school year, where would you suggest I start gathering information about robotics curriculum?

I would first suggest that teachers seek the support of their school administration teams. In many cases, administrators are aware of local schools and programs already engaged in robotics and STEM programs. A strong support network can often provide ready-made curriculum, lesson plans, start-up resources, and most of all, ongoing mentoring.

In terms of ready-made curriculum, I would suggest starting with the following:

Carnegie Mellon University, K-12 curriculum. Lego Education is another top provider of robotics and STEM programs, which target students from elementary level to high school. The product for elementary students is called LEGO Education WeDo Robotics Construction Set.

And, just to recap a question we asked last week, what aspects of the classroom robotics experience translate into the work environment?

All of the robotics projects [discussed here] demonstrate concepts and applications that are encountered every day in the workplace. Projects specifically help students develop skills in critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork, among other valuable areas. Today’s employers are looking for behaviors that effectively translate into leadership, time management, communications and responsibility, because these are the very qualities that turn students into employees who are critical thinkers, problem-solvers and team players.

Leave a Reply