What is Robotics?


Robotics refers to the design and application of robots, which are automated machines that accomplish a range of tasks. The first robots were integrated into factory assembly lines in order to streamline and increase the productivity of manufacturing, most notably for cars. Today, the integration of robots into mining, the military, and transportation has helped improved operations for industries by taking over tasks that are unsafe or tedious for humans. It is expected that the global robot population will double to four million by 2020, a shift that is expected to shape business models and economies all over the world. There is a substantial debate on how workers will continue to be affected by the global economy’s growing dependence on robots, especially as robots become more autonomous, safer, and cheaper than ever. While robotics is at least four years away from being a part of mainstream curricula, its potential uses are starting to gain interest. Robotics programs are focusing on outreach efforts that promote robotics and programming as multi-disciplinary STEM learning that can make students better problem solvers for the 21st century. - Larry Larry Apr 6, 2016

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Larry Larry Feb 8, 2012

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?


  • I'm excited about Robotics for two reasons: one, it gets kids interested in (fascinated by!) programming; two, robots are something that everyone can understand as being "naturals" for selling the concepts of Makerspaces/STEM. Well, maybe three reasons...three, that robots are getting more affordable with Arduino and Raspberry Pi kits. Robots encompass everything touted as "21st century education": Students as Creators vs. Consumers, Problem-Solving, etc. - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Apr 4, 2016
  • Agree with David above, but also want to add on that that there are robotics options for the entire spectrum (PK-12 and various budgets), making this a very accessible technology to schools.- cbsteighner cbsteighner Apr 9, 2016
  • - kevin-johnson kevin-johnson Apr 12, 2016One of my jobs is as after-school club coordinator. Several years ago I started one club called Scratch and Robots, a very popular club. I worked on the club with our IT Director and our Junior High Science / Math teacher, an engineer by training with a lot of robotics experience. We used LEGO Mindstorms.
  • I agree with all above, adding only that since many schools in Brazil already have robotics programs, it has been a great entryway for including maker activities and having the schools develop their own Makerspaces. - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Apr 21, 2016
  • Agree with all of the above - and so delighted that robotics is finally arriving "on the horizon" as we have been using robotics (LEGO MindStorms) with elementary school children in Ireland with a number of schools since 1998 and their engagement, creativity, grit and resilience continues to energise me and the teachers involved - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler May 1, 2016
  • Agree that the engagement component is huge with students of all ages when working in robotics. It's relevance is in providing a real world application for math, science, program, and collaboration that is sometimes difficult to otherwise teach in the schools. After many years of very high level robotics programs at the high school and middle schools, our elementary schools are now getting dedicated programs beyond just the makerspaces. Why are they getting dedicated programs? The interest is so high that we need to turn away students from participating in these programs. - digitalroberto digitalroberto Apr 28, 2016- adrian_lim adrian_lim May 1, 2016
  • - shafika.isaacs shafika.isaacs May 1, 2016In an African context the introduction of robotics as a basis for problem solving and creative enquiry through integration in STEM curriculum, is beginning to capture the imagination of practitioners and policy makers in some countries. I think the recent development in the UK with the BBC Microbit is also worth watching with great interest. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4hVG2Br1W1LKCmw8nSm9WnQ/the-bbc-micro-bit
  • The programming part of robotics will probably, or hopefully, have a potential that can be tapped into, and for advanced students robotics will be an integral part of STEM curriculum in future.
  • - adrian_lim adrian_lim May 1, 2016 The use of robotics must be age and developmentally appropriate for students. In Singapore, a small research project (from Jan -May 2016) is undertaken with KIBO (KinderLab Robotics and DevTech Development Group, Tufts University) on the effectiveness of a robotics curriculum in kindergartens. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ltLPPtA1BY


(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • I like the mention of robots having appeal to kids with...uh, "special needs" is the politically correct term, right? Elsewhere, I mentioned that games are being used for ADHD and other kids. We've noticed the same effect and indeed, our soon-to-arrive Special Educational Needs teacher and I have already been talking about using games, robots...and yes, drones...with some of our kids. What also deserves a mention is that GIRLS love robots too. We still get programming's-not-our-thing pushback from some gals, except when it's time to make games or direct robots. One other thing to mention is that I'm considering using virtual robots (http://www.robotvirtualworlds.com/) until we get the kwai...er, bucks... for a Makerspace full of robot kits. Sure, kids won't get to do it hands-on, but it's better than nothing, and they still learning programming! - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Apr 4, 2016
  • - shafika.isaacs shafika.isaacs May 1, 2016 Are there prospects for robotics to support STEAM learning? Yes most definitely, our theme for working with the MindStorms materials was Story, Myth and Legend for many years (Martin, F., Butler, D., and Gleason, W. (2000). Design, story-telling, and robots in Irish primary education. In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, pages 730-735, Piscataway, NJ. Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers / Butler, D., (2007). A Constructionist view of what it means to be digitally literate. The Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, Volume 2, pp. 61-77) - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler May 1, 2016
  • Humanoid Robots
    http://www.digitalartsonline.co.uk/news/hacking-maker/uk-schools-get-humanoid-robots-make-tech-education-more-appealing-children/
    https://www.aldebaran.com/en/solutions/education-research
    https://www.ida.gov.sg/Tech-Scene-News/Tech-News/Tech-Adoption/2016/4/Pepper-spices-up-classroom-learning [Editor's Note: Moved here from RQ2.]

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • Think I covered everything above. - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Apr 4, 2016
  • - kevin-johnson kevin-johnson Apr 12, 2016It is a great STEM and coding tool that is a hit with kids. In the hands of a skillful guide / teacher it can get even novices writing code to race their robots around mazes from age 7 and up; yes both boys and girls as David commented above. Along with Scratch, it offers what I think is one of the best roads into coding for kids, along with Minecraft (again when guided by a skilled teacher).
  • Working with robotics students can develop a deep understanding of a range of complex problems that are rooted in their everyday life. For the teachers starting out the Lego Education materials can be very useful. particularly the range of started and expansion projects connected to everyday life (c.f. the WeDo 2.0 and EV3 course / curriculum materials)
  • From robotics these skills and coding can expand to other activities, such as building sensors for testing water quality, or building intelligent houses. - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Apr 21, 2016
  • The collaboration aspect is huge, robotics is too difficult for students to do alone, while the collaboration leads to far better results. The problem solving, hands-on building aspect is so beneficial for students of all ages, combined with the math and programming capabilities. - digitalroberto digitalroberto Apr 28, 2016
  • - shafika.isaacs shafika.isaacs May 1, 2016I think in an African context this technology opens up the imagination of learners towards being creators and designer and not just as consumers.

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • We're just getting our Robotics program going, along with our Makerspace. As mentioned, we could go virtual. And/or partner with a Lego school that's close by. Re: K-12 schools all over, this has been getting big and will get bigger quickly. I don't think it's four years away. I think it's moved up to one year away. http://theconversation.com/five-reasons-to-teach-robotics-in-schools-49357 - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Apr 4, 2016

  • The potential is demonstrated in the annual global WRO, World Robot Olympiad covering the whole K12 range, see http://www.wro2015.org/ - claus.gregersen claus.gregersen Apr 10, 2016 I had a chance to attend a WRO national competition in Mexico City and it was amazing! Never seen kids so engaged...almost obsessed! ;) - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Apr 16, 2016 - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Apr 21, 2016

  • - kevin-johnson kevin-johnson Apr 12, 2016As mentioned above, in an after-school club, I have successful used LEGO Mindstorms with upper Elementary and JH students. I live in Japan, and a local club teaches with Mindstorms to an astonishing degree - even novices aged 7 to 9 - my son participated with no experience at age 9, so I was first-hand witness to this successful application. This 10 minute video, with the exception of the first item "Chip" shows some excellent products just entering the market https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWL188k_foA; LEGO We DO for age 7+ is also looking good for Grade 2 to 4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEBxRU4ivJI. The corporate video aimed at teachers is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9e_P9PXRQk.
  • We have been using the Lego MindStorms materials in a number of schools since 1998. Building on this we have just launched a Lego Education Innovation Studio at Dublin City University's Institute of Education http://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/brick-by-brick-the-lego-approach-to-learning-1.2619216
  • In Brazil many schools have a robotics program. One great recent initiative was with the 500 public schools in Sao Paulo, where they created a weekend where kids learned to build robots and then tested them out. It was done in a gymnasium. Also, there is the Brazilian Robotics Olympics every year. http://www.obr.org.br/?page_id=715
  • In Tustin Unified School District in California, there is a huge robotics program at all 29 schools grades TK-12 with the MS and HS programs being part of the regular curriculum, not just an after school club. Students participate in regular competitions sending teams to the State and National competitions. Throughout Orange County, California there are strong competitive robotics programs throughout many Districts. - digitalroberto digitalroberto Apr 28, 2016
  • - shafika.isaacs shafika.isaacs May 1, 2016See the introduction of robotics programs and clubs at schools in Uganda http://fundibots.org/

  • - adrian_lim adrian_lim May 1, 2016 The use of robotics must be age and developmentally appropriate for students. In Singapore, a small research project (from Jan -May 2016) is undertaken with KIBO (KinderLab Robotics and DevTech Development Group, Tufts University) on the effectiveness of a robotics curriculum in kindergartens. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ltLPPtA1BY


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