- Schools can launch a robotics and coding program by taking small first steps via the Hour of Code, launching a club, or just buying one robot toy at a time, according to EdTech: Focus on K-12.
- Often, robots from companies like Wonder Workshop have coding lessons built into the way children play with them: To make them work, students use block coding language, which teaches the concept of coding without having to type characters and strings into a computer.
- Students are so excited and proud of what they learn, they start to share their skills at parent nights and with other students, acting as student ambassadors and seeding STEM learning to other children at school.
Nothing sparks a child’s imagination like watching something they’ve built or coded come to life. Robotics can be an exciting element to many maker spaces and to classrooms, as well — and they can even enhance problem-solving skills. The cost to bringing these tools into classrooms can be substantial, but there are ways to introduce basic robotic and coding ideas without a huge investment at the start.
Certain companies offer robotic toys that work through block coding language, which is a stepping stone to more advanced languages like Python and Perl. These toys often work with each other, so even if a school center starts with just one, each additional device can be connected. There are also free online programs such as the Hour of Code, CodeAcademy and even Udemy, which offers some free coding courses online for students who are ready to move beyond basic block codes.
While students who want to pursue future careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics require some familiarity with robotics and coding, these tool sets change quickly. Yesterday, HTML was a coding language popular in schools. Today, it’s more likely Python. Tomorrow a new language could appear. To stay abreast and provide students with the most current skills, curriculum designers need to stay informed while also providing professional development for their own educators who are teaching these areas, as well.