The Impact of Integrating Robotics into the Middle School Science Curriculum

Recently, I completed my Masters of Education and Digital Technologies project called “The Impact of Integrating Robotics into the Middle School Science Curriculum”. Below is an excerpt from my project.

Robots have become increasingly ubiquitous in society ranging from pop culture to bettering human life through technological innovation. The ever evolving role of robotics in our world alludes to the idea that robotics should at the least exist, if not play a large role, in our education system. Integrating robotics into the curriculum has pedagogical value as students can develop their conceptual learning (core subject matter) and non-conceptual learning (soft skills such as problem solving and critical thinking) by working with the technology. Using robotics also provides a means for teachers to design open-ended and inquiry based tasks to develop their students’ understanding. The opportunity for elementary, middle and high school students to engage in robotics is limited and solely based on the school students attend and the teachers within the school. If a school happens to employ teachers that are interested in working with robotics, only then will robotics become part of curriculum or extra-curricular clubs. Teachers require the administration’s support in order to secure financial backing to fund robotics as well as the support of their colleagues, community members and parents to bring and sustain robotic programs in a school. This type of undertaking is based on teacher willingness to take extra time and energy to bring robotics to the classroom; there is no curriculum that instructs administrators and teachers on how to do use robotics or provides quick access to educational material related to teaching robotics catered to all skill levels and ages. These challenges alone make it difficult for teachers who have no experience in robotics to want to implement robotics as an educational tool. How can teachers be motivated to bring robotics into the classroom without sustainable and accessible educational, professional and financial support? Conversely, our society also expects that our high school graduates will want to pursue post-secondary degrees in mechanical, electrical or systems engineering. How do students know that they are interested in these fields of engineering if they are not exposed to robotics in elementary, middle or secondary school? Are schools or curriculum developers doing a disservice to students by not exposing them to careers in engineering by not offering robotics programs? By extension, our society is losing out on potential technological innovation that our students could be capable of developing. Teachers, administrators, schools, curriculum developers and Ministries of Education could be doing more to integrate robotics into education. The variety of benefits of educational robotics has been researched and documented and this research project aims to provide additional insight that further develops the cause for robotics education at the middle school level.

The project paper can be viewed or downloaded below:

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