Robots Rule Classrooms

Robots-RuleIntegrating robotics into engineering or mathematics courses can provide a degree of relevance that students sometimes complain is missing in traditional courses, Elets News Network (ENN) takes an indepth look

A common sight everywhere, the robots, or robotic devices, are being increasingly employed as teaching tools in schools, colleges and universities.

Incorporation of robotics into design, engineering, mathematics and science course so fundamentally changes the form as adds colour into the content or, more simply, provides an innovative way of presenting the subject matter. There is hardly any subject left out of the reach of the robotics. The school children tend to be highly receptive to the unusual sight of robots in the classroom situations. Through the use of robots, they may subconsciously be led onto a career path they might not otherwise have considered.

Sudhanshu Sharma, CEO, Techtronics Education India Ltd says, “Research at leading universities across the globe shows that in order to bridge the large gap between academic achievements and practical, 21st century skills and competencies, hands-on learning or learning by doing is the right way. The concepts of hands-on learning as the foundation of all kinds of learning was widely popularized and developed in the modern context by Frobel – the creator of Kindergartens. This was further carried on by several fellow educationists. Mitch Resnik at MIT Media Labs, enhanced the concept by making learning fun in a “lifelong kindergarten” where the students learn while working on something, engaging themselves with the concept. Rapid intrusion of technology in our everyday lives has triggered the extensive use of technology in the classroom for hands-on learning that would include mechanical design, construction, logical thinking and programming, creative thinking and team work. All these areas can be easily integrated into Robotics.”

Other benefits of the role of robots in the classroom include:

  • Preparation for the major role that robotics will inevitably play in the future
  • Enhancing creative problem-solving skills
  • Encouraging development of communication and interpersonal skills
  • Encouraging teamwork in a realw o r l d r a t h e r than pure- l y spor t ing activity

Though not an integral part to the conventional courses, the robotics can make engineering or mathematics more relevant.

The students are typically more inclined to solve, or at least attempt to solve, mathematical sums if a correct answer means their robot works properly.

Robots-machineSimilarly, without knowledge of basic engineering principles, the students cannot produce a working robot. The robots can transform abstract ideas and principles into a concrete, real-world understanding. Advances in technology have meant that the cost of robots has fallen to tight and affordable budgets.

Robotics in education lays the foundation for prof icient, independent learning in formal education. If the students enjoy themselves while learning, they are much more likely to retain what they learnt. There are many robotic resources which children can develop their skills from.

Currently, the robotics industry does not have enough jobs to employ all the engineering graduates keen to pursue a career in robotics. Sometimes, this disappoints the engineering graduates passionately pursuing robotics in school.

Hopefully, the robotics industry will continue to grow and the job situation will be significantly better a few years down the road. But what should the graduating students, interested in robotics, do in the meantime?

Robotics in education lays the foundation for proficient, independent learning in formal education. If the students enjoy themselves while learning, they are much more likely to retain what they learnt. There are many robotic resources which children can develop their skills from

Let us also keep in mind that the robots can be quite entertaining. The robots have become ambassadors of STEM education in the US.

Sudhanshu Sharma, CEO, Techtronics Education India Ltd says, “Robotics is a multidisciplinary field that encompasses design, creativity, logical thinking. programming, engineering and structured problem solving. It triggers thinking, innovation and entrepreneurial skills in students from an early age. They can apply theoretical science and Maths concepts in real working models thus getting engages with the subjects and core CS-STEM concepts.”

Comparing India with other countries, he adds, “The concept of Robotics is known to educations and they value its importance and benefits. However, the adoption is far too less as compared with other countries like China, Korea, Japan and Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. We are not even trying to draw up a parallel with developed nations.”

Robots are a very good example of modern cyber physical systems. They contain mechanical, electrical, electronic and software components that interact in complex ways to produce the desired behaviour and performance. In terms of building blocks, they are no different than modern dish-washers, automobiles, magnetic resonance imaging machines and cranes

According to him, “Even though there are no fixed numbers or surveyed data, but we can safely assume that the market size of robotics in India is easily over Rs 1000 crores.”

When asked about the career opportunities in this field, he says, “Being e Robotics and hands on teachers is a very fulfilling and exciting career opportunity. We believe that India needs over 10,000 trained STEM and Robotics teachers and trainers over the next 2-3 years.”

Robotic education plays more prominent role in:

1. CS-STEM Computer Science, Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

2. Core concepts of Physics and Maths.

3. Communication, presentation, team work, leadership, structured & creative problem solving, innovative thinking, design & technology, vocational etc.

Sudhanshu says that one must me particular about the essential points to keep in mind while designing the robotic labs for schools and colleges. For example the lab should be flexible to address both STEM learning and Robotics projects.

Besides, the product selected should be scalable, high quality, child friendly and safe and durable product. Product platform should be easy to learn and use. It should be flexible and re-usable. It should be such that it can be reused to build different models by the entire school to reduce the cost of ownership and cost per child.

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