What are robots?
Different types of robots are used in schools. Most are remote-controlled vehicles, figures or characters. Children control the robot’s movement by programming in commands.
At primary level, bee-shaped ‘BeeBots’ and ‘Roamer’ robots are a popular choice. Even very young children can control and program these. Older children often use robotics kits such as LEGO Mindstorms. The kits include a programmable control unit, motors and sensors. Students use these to make and program complex robots.
How robots are used in school
Robots and control systems have become essential parts of modern industry and are increasingly used in education. They are used especially in maths, science and ICT. For example:
• in Key Stage 1 maths, children can use floor robots to learn and practise estimation, measurement and angles
• in KS3 design and technology, students can program complex robots to move and respond to the environment around them.
Some students show their robots at annual educational events and national and international competitions.
“Children learn sequencing in maths and literacy and apply those skills to program the robots. Conversely, the robots are also used to help children understand sequencing.” Anson Primary School
Benefits of robots
One of the big benefits of robots is their power to capture the imagination of pupils. Other benefits include:
• developing teamwork and creativity
• encouraging a positive approach to problem-solving
• developing the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) skills required by industry.
Also, learners who have difficulties with literacy or numeracy often find success with control technology.
Robots in practice
Anson Primary School uses BeeBots with children in nursery and reception classes. After a briefing on safe and correct handling, the first thing children do is play with the robots. They quickly get to grips with the equipment and soon learn what all the controls do.
Next, they work in small groups to direct the BeeBots around routes on sheets. As they progress, they learn about sequencing and programming. The children develop important refining skills as they work with the robots. They enjoy trying out new ideas and can review anything that doesn’t work, without fear of failure. They identify where to improve and happily continue until they succeed.