Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Continuity - K-12

We at Robotics And Beyond have been "doing" robotics with kids for over eight years. The majority of those kids are in middle school, roughly 11,12,13, and 14 year olds. One thing we've noticed is that when it comes to programming and sensors and electronics, there is a huge knowledge and experience variance among the first timers.

Some kids have no idea what a resistor is, others have soldered together an electronic kit they got for their birthday. When asked to think of a sensor that might be useful for a robot to have, some kids will stare back at you in silence, while others will begin rattling off a whole list of sensors (usually the ones that came standard with their LEGO Mindstorms kit). Then there is programming, it seems again that the only the kids who have an experience or knowledge are those that have a robotics kit at home.

Robotics is a field that encompasses so many other science and engineering fields, and it is a field that seems to capture the interests of so many people - young and old. Why then don't we make use of it more in schools?  Is it because there is equipment to buy and schools just don't have the money? Is it because the teachers and administrators don't have enough knowledge and experience themselves and feel intimidated by it? Is it because teachers and administrators feel it is too complex to be taught as a single subject?