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The Impact of Robotics on Education

21 November 2016
With the global growth in STEM related careers - science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Wellington need to encourage pupils to develop their skills and talents in these areas. Robotics helps break down the barriers between these subjects, enabling pupils to make connections between them, developing a holistic understanding and applying them to real-world scenarios outside the normal curriculum. It allows pupils to get together into teams to analyse problems, suggest solutions and develop a finished article that will hopefully be quicker, faster and more efficient than your opponents. Robotics has been introduced at Wellington as research has shown that children who get involved in robotics are more likely to pursue STEM courses and careers. It also shows an increase, especially for girls’ participation in engineering fields if they are introduced to robotics. To add to this, Dr. Theodore Chiasson, dean of IT from the College of North Atlantic and the country organiser for Qatar for the World Robotic Olympiad put it in a different perspective, “I have found that when you build a robot yourself and you want it to do something new, you have to learn more maths, more science or more physics, to be able to do that. The motivation for the learning is then within the student, for which makes for a complete paradigm shift in terms of the learning environment”, he notes. Robotics can also help develop personal, learning and thinking skills (PLTS); independent enquirers, creative thinkers, reflective learners, team workers, self-managers, and effective participants. All these skills are integral to learning for life and are all interconnected, so when solving problems in Robotics they will be applying all these skills. This helps to create a balance between academic and vocational success that is vitally important when our pupils are going out to work. But we should not stop there when looking at the additional skills that robotics can offer our pupils. At Wellington College International Shanghai, we encourage pupils to develop the Wellington Values: Courage; Respect; Integrity; Kindness; and Respect. These add to the holistic skills that we want in our pupils when they leave the College. Each subject has its own role in the success of robotics.
  • Design and technology - used to develop sophisticated structures that can manoeuver courses and obstacles and complete challenges.
  • Computer science - used to code the robots and enable the interaction between the inputs (sensors) and their outputs (motors).
  • Mathematics - advanced formulae to improve the functionality of computer programs.
  • Science - used when exploring the effects of friction, gearing mechanisms and aerodynamics.
Anthony Orme ICT Teacher