Integration of Robotics Education into STEM

Over the past year, I have worked on the option of integrating Robotics into areas of STEM such as Science and Mathematics. At present, I am teaching the subjects of Science, STEM and Robotics from Year 7 to 10.

The concept of Light provides one scientific phenomenon, that facilitates the integration of Robotics with an investigation into the cause of rainbows. A light sensor on the EV3 robot can be used to reflect light and then use data logging to produce a computerised graph to highlight the various reflections of light. The same potential is available to use other sensors to investigate concepts, such as Heat and Sound in experiments to data log scientific information.

This integration is an exciting opportunity to explore the process of using technology to assist in explaining concepts. However, conducting it effectively involves some challenges. It is difficult for most teachers to feel confident in approaching the idea of teaching Robotics with their subject for the first time. Accordingly, I found it valuable to operate in classes with science teachers to assist in bridging the technology of an EV3 robot with the steps in discovering the origins of the rainbow. I trialled this integration with 10 different classes and that gave the students and their class teacher an opportunity to gain an understanding of how to use the EV3 robot to best effect. Two lessons were devoted to discovering the cause of the rainbow. The first involved discussing the science behind the Electromagnetic Spectrum and then viewing a video to expand on the introduction. In the following class students used light boxes and a triangular prism to create the rainbow. Following this, the EV3 Robot moved across the spectrum with its light sensor focussed on the different colours. The reflection of light from the various colours was then processed by the robot to analyse the energy of the colours and was consequently generated into a graph to show a clear synopsis of the energy emitted across the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS).

This activity provided an excellent opportunity to view the benefits of combining Technology and Science. For the best operation of the integration, other issues needed to be considered to ensure effective completion of the investigation.

    • Sufficient robotics kits are needed for students to work in 2s and sometimes 3 to conduct the experiment.
    • Where they will be safely stored.
    • How the robots are to be effectively charged.
    • It is important to consider which topics of the available science curriculum are most suited to allow provision of data, which the robot can collect through use of its sensors and mechanics.
    • It is more feasible to integrate STEM concepts (eg EMS, gravity, inertia etc and Robotics in the secondary curriculum, while integrating STEM topics (Astronomy, Earthquakes etc) and STEM in Primary education.

The integration of Robotics into Science has been exciting and a field of education with a tremendous future. The age of Technology is one that is clearly embedded in our students’ learning and will make the schools’ curricula of tomorrow an exciting forum to demonstrate our growing use and understanding of Technology.