Why Robotics Classes for Kids are Important

Apr 04 2024

As a parent and caregiver you want your child to lead a successful and fulfilling life. But when it comes to their educational journey, choosing a school with the right curriculum, classes, or programs can be challenging.

For example, many schools lack a comprehensive STEAM education program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math), which offers hands-on opportunities for students to explore these topics in an exciting format.

Robotics is just one of these topics in a STEAM education. Based on science and engineering principles, these courses focus on the design, construction, and use of mechanical robots that allows students to immerse themselves in an integral part of the technological world.

If you’re wondering whether robotics will enhance your child’s development, here’s an overview of the benefits they can expect from this specialized education.

4 Benefits of Robotics Classes for Young Learners

1. Fosters Creativity and Innovation

As with most STEAM activities, robotics fosters a sense of creativity and innovation that’s natural in children. 

“With robotics, students will really throw themselves into their work,” says Daniel Bobrowski, middle school science teacher at Friends’ Central School. “When students see that their mission can result in real measurable success, it allows them to think more creatively and innovatively.”

2. Develops Problem-Solving Skills

Students in robotics are always encouraged to use problem-solving skills. By exploring how science, technology, and robotics can solve daily challenges, children are able to practice testing hypotheses, which is a crucial skill when addressing real-world problems.

“In robotics class, there are different ways to approach a problem and craft solutions rather than conventional subjects and environments that typically offer one correct answer,” says Brie Daley, director at Friends’ Central School Lower School’s Ulmer Family Light Lab.

For students, this “non-linear” way of thinking allows them to truly think outside the box and become creative problem solvers.

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3. Builds Teamwork Skills

The emphasis on teamwork in science and robotics classrooms fosters strong collaboration among young learners. Being able to work together to solve problems can be a difficult skill to develop, but is essential for students working on robotics projects.

“These team projects can be tough,” Bobrowski says. “But once students figure out how to collaborate with different styles and personalities, they’re more likely to accomplish their goals. Students always come back to the real-world application of teamwork, and it can be a challenge—but it’s fun.”

4. Enhances Mathematical and Scientific Understanding

Robotics classes also enhance the mathematical and scientific learning of STEAM curriculum

Since students are able to participate in robotics activities that use math and science, it can ignite their curiosity and enthusiasm for other math- and science-based classes.

“For instance, students who are working on programming a motor will quickly notice parallels between concepts they’ve learned in math,” Daley says. “Kids are able to connect the dots when they’re applying movements in degrees, or concepts of geometry to their work.” 

Applying concepts and methods from various disciplines not only solidifies that knowledge but also inspires young learners to think of other ways to use this information in unexpected ways.

Robotics at Friends’ Central School

Lower School Robotics

Believe it or not, robotics is an incredible topic for young learners. The hands-on learning in robotics projects keeps even the youngest learners’ engaged in the coursework. 

At Friends’ Central School (FCS) Lower School, Ulmer Family Light Lab focuses entirely on project-based lessons, which allow young students the opportunity to immerse themselves in STEM topics, like robotics, without getting overwhelmed or losing interest. 

For example, kindergarteners use LEGO Education WeDo sets, which combine the popular childhood toy with compatible components like a power hub with LEDs, sensors, and motors. This set is meant to enhance students' curiosity and science skills, sparking the excitement needed to keep young learners engaged and interested in these topics. 

Fifth graders take these hands-on lessons to the next level using parts from a Hummingbird electronics set to build a unique robot connected to what they are learning in the classroom. For example, Daley notes that one academic year students were asked to build self-reflective robots that demonstrated a strong part of their identity that could make them superheroes.

“One example is a student who made a female robot with a throwing arm that had a piece of ice attached to it,” Daley says. “Her superpower was that she keeps cool under pressure. So these are concrete robots that often have a very deep meaning for our students.”

Middle School Robotics

For Friends’ Central middle school students, robotics is built directly into the science curriculum in ways that reinforce the concepts and material they’ve learned. Seventh graders, for example, participate in an intricate Mars landing exercise where they build robotic Mars rovers that they operate from a student-led “mission control.”

Intermediate-level students have additional opportunities to further explore their interest in robotics with electives and extracurricular offerings at the middle school level. The 8th grade LEGO League is an excellent example of this, allowing students to further develop their skills in robotics outside a structured curriculum.

Upper School Robotics

Having established a solid foundation of knowledge, Upper School students at FCS are able to further enhance their science and robotics understanding, which allows them to excel in crucial parts of a high school robotics curriculum. 

Upper School students are encouraged to continue their extracurricular work by participating in the FIRST Robotics competition. This turns robotics into a team-based competition—with aspects similar to sports like shooting balls into hoops or climbing hills.

And these offerings are just the beginning for FCS’s Upper School students. The Center for Innovation & Design (CID) gives students a central hub to explore their love of STEM and explore the world of robotics. This unique resource allows students to pursue their interest in robotics and science both during the school day, and in their free time. 

“We're currently renovating our STEM center on the Upper School campus,” says Matthew Schoifet, science teacher and co-director of the CID. “Going forward we plan to incorporate more engineering and robotics electives for Upper School students.” 

Preparing for the Future

Even if predicting your child’s future career path is challenging, preparing for their future is vital. That is why choosing a school with courses linked to positive career outcomes is so important.

“If you look at the career data, STEAM careers are the only area that are predicted to exponentially increase for students,” Daley says. “Robotics will absolutely give students an advantage and will hopefully be an area that they think about studying beyond high school.”

Friends’ Central School offers a STEAM curriculum with robotics courses that don’t just focus on developing future engineers. It also delivers on its mission of creating a joy-filled education to create lifelong learners. 

With the introduction of robotics to traditional instruction, students are encouraged to exercise their natural sense of curiosity and pursue their passions as they discover what the future academic world has to offer them.

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