The use of robotics has not only been essential for students in the classroom, but robotics proves to be an appropriate activity even after the school day is over. For most students, spending the whole day in a classroom gets exhausting and tiring. When the day is done, kids want to spend their time doing whatever it is they really love. For STEM students, robotics can be the ultimate way to spend after-school free time.
If we look back to our childhood, we remember always being fascinated by new gadgets and toys. This is still a reality for kids today, especially when it comes to electronics, particularly robotics. A study conducted by Fatima Kaloti-Hallak, a Ph.D. student at the Weizmann Institute of Science, shows that experimenting with robotics can inspire and attract students who tend to have difficulties with a conventional school curriculum.
Building robots, programming virtual robots, and learning how to code produces an advanced environment in which students are learning in an engaging way, making it the perfect extracurricular opportunity for those students who benefit from learning by a more hands-on approach. One way to get students more involved in learning STEM outside the classroom is robotics and coding competitions, such as the CRCC (Cyber Robotics Coding Competition). An extracurricular opportunity such as a robotics competition offers an outlet for students to discover and cultivate their passions for STEM while in a competitive and constructive atmosphere.
Whether or not students know it, they continue learning valuable lessons from robotics even after the school day has ended. Skills acquired from learning robotics and code may not be as immediately transparent or tangible as quickly memorizing math multiplication tables, but rather this afterschool activity provides more holistic and long-standing mental benefits.
In a study conducted by researchers from Dokuz Eylul University, Turkey, and the University of Tartu, Estonia, students working on an after-school robotics project wanted to stay for longer than an hour’s worth of time to complete the undertakings they had begun working on. This proves that students involved in robotics develop high levels of motivation and perseverance to work on complex projects and expand their knowledge base, even after the minimum project requirements have been met.
As an educator, imagine the feeling of satisfaction that would come to you after one of your students voluntarily stayed to continue a class project, simply because they love the subject matter. Students are becoming highly interested and engaged with STEM activities and are willing to spend more of their time dedicated to it.
Not only is there a positive attitude toward afterschool STEM activities in younger age groups, but this interest persists after secondary school and continues throughout middle school and high school. A study conducted by Alan Melchior, Cathy Burack, and Mathew Hoover from Brandeis University, shows that after-school robotics activities have positive lasting impacts on students and their feelings toward STEM. If studies show that students are benefitting from robotics during school, then why should they be limited to doing STEM activities just during the school day?
After-school activities are important for students to exercise their brain by doing whatever is fun for them, even after a full day of learning. Memorizing subject matter in school is temporarily satisfactory for short-term assignments, but problem-solving, critical thinking, and self-esteem are traits that only strengthen over time.
Creating innovative solutions in a less structured environment allows students to exercise their creativity and establish strong relationships by working on a team. Students that partake in robotics and extracurricular competitions are constantly working on skills and traits that will eventually help them succeed in the future, as well as develop 21st-century skills.
While there are many subjects important to a school curriculum, there is just some information that cannot be taught through words, but rather must be taught through experiential learning. Whether a student is a visual learner or a good listener, certain concepts that are as multifaceted as the technology requires the use of hands-on learning, not just in the classroom but through after-school activities.
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A provider of STEM-robotics equipment and training for young women and teachers in underserved communities around the globe, the Community Bots is the brainchild of Jack Cooley, a science teacher with a 25-year success record across grades 3-12.
For Parkland Magnet MS’ teachers, CoderZ offers up real-world applications that help students actually see how what they’re learning is applicable in the real world—even though it’s only in a computer simulation.
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