A recent trend in the US is declining numbers of STEM professionals. Over the last decade, reports published by National Innovation Institute, National Academies study, President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology; all pointed towards the need to increase the STEM talent pool if America were to continue its strength in science and technology.
Many attempts have been made to increase STEM courses including state aid and scholarships, but one piece of STEM seems to have rekindled the fire in some children’s eyes. Robotics.
Robotics brings together science, math, technology, and engineering all into one subject. Educational robotics has emerged as a field that involves students doing coding, designing, developing, and operating of robots, thereby teaching them the understanding and application of various subjects. The complexity of said robots vary from elementary to graduate programs, but are all working off the same basic principles.
Many companies are now making educational robots for students to build. They use STEM-friendly kits to create their robots from soup to nuts, or code to test in robotics. A plethora of resources are online as well like Lego Mindstorms and Vex Robotics, which you can order kits from that range from simple to sophisticated.
Projects like these help students develop interest in subjects like mathematics, coding, engineering, science and technology which lead innovation. Learning is fun and fast, compared to traditional education. It has a high level of engagement for students that are involved in STEM and gives them encouragement to pursue it after high school.
An increasing number of schools are recognizing the need for robotics and are introducing it as a part of their curriculum. Some esteemed universities have also introduced the knowledge of coding as a pre-requisite for higher education, highlighting its importance further.
Robotics is also being considered as the sport of the 21st century. It teaches teamwork, problem-solving, and collaboration just like other sports. Competitions are held at high schools as well as college levels, where teams develop robots and operate them to achieve a goal or provide a fast solution.
Direct application of knowledge increases the interest of students in the subjects and develops an innovative mindset at a young age. As per FIRST ®, 89% of its students who actively participated in such competitions took up STEM courses at the student or professional level. So far, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Texas have sanctioned robotics program as an official sport in high schools, and more states are expected to follow.
A major aspect of learning through robotics is the ability to solve a problem by trying and failing, till you succeed. Students explore and think creatively to achieve a solution. This is the basis of innovation. As students learn and apply their knowledge in STEM, they prepare themselves to be future problem solvers and innovators. This mode of education focused on innovation has brought STEM back to life, reviving the interest of students in the subject and is expected to design the future of education.