Robots Make a Difference in Science and Technology Education

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Photo Credit: Nic McPhee http://flickr.com/photos/nicmcphee/

The question of how to help American students succeed in high tech subjects continues to be on the forefront of public discussion nationwide. One of the answers is occurring on a regular basis in communities across the country. Robotics intrigues students in a way that only a few topics can. In a recent era, space exploration held this fascination for young people and inspired a generation to take on science and engineering. Now, it appears robotics is at center stage for many students. The photo above is from a robotics competition held at the University of North Dakota. In this contest, the robots are programmed to act as sumo wrestlers. The robots push each other until one is shoved out of the ring.

Robotics classes are becoming more common in schools and robotics competitions are sweeping the nation. There are many types of competitions with acronyms such as FIRST or BEST. Take the following article in the San Antonio Express News about the local BEST competition. Students spent six weeks building robots to undertake a complex task centered around the theme of Bugs! Forrest Mims III, an amateur scientist who writes a column in the San Antonio Express News, states that robotics may be the key to improving education, especially in science and technology. You can read the full article at the link below.

The educational performance of US students has fallen dramatically in recent decades. Parents and educators can help reverse the tide by involving their students in robotics and science fairs. See www.sabest.org for details about BEST.

Robots help teens learn about science
San Antonio Express
Sat, 29 Oct 2011 00:29:04 GMT

RobotCity Workshop – Where You Can Make Your Own (Robot) Friends

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Photo Credit:  RobotCity Workshop

RobotCity Workshop may well be the only store of its kind in the country, a visionary shop with the slogan "Make your own friends."  Education has been a central part of this establishment's mission for years, as they have worked with school students to build robotics projects.  Now, they are doing the same for adults.

With a retail outlet in the front of the store, and a workshop on the premises, anyone can learn how to build a robot.  Of course, there are other projects available too. 

The shop carries all types of robots.  They range from personal robots, cleaning robots, security robots, and other categories of robots as well.  In addition, the RobotCity Workshop offers hobby kits for all ages and abilities, electronic parts, and, of course, the hardware to hold it all together.  Everything for the robot builder is available here.

This may very well be the prototype for robotics stores.  Providing not only the materials and means to built the machines, but also the educational experience to enable everyone to learn about robotics.  After all, for those of us that believe the robotics revolution is here to stay, this is the kind of place that needs to be in every city.

Make sure to go to the Chicago Now website and read their story on this groundbreaking and unique store.

via www.chicagonow.com

iRobot Shows Off Educational Program

iRobot is demonstrating it is serious about its education outreach program.  SPARK or Starter Programs for the Advancement of Robotics Knowledge, as the program is known, is out to show students and teachers how robots work.  Previously, this effort was detailed in a post from September 8, 2009 here on RobotNext.  It would be nice to see iRobot use its iCreate platform to greater effect.  Read the article at the link below.

iRobot launches educational program
Boston Globe
The object of the initiative is to help educators, parents and students use "the wonder and genius of robots" to inspire students in K-12 schools.
iRobot Launches New Initiative to 'SPARK' STEM Education in the Classroom Business Wire (press release)
all 12 news articles ┬╗

iRobot launches educational program – Boston Globe
(author unknown)
Mon, 07 Dec 2009 15:56:09 GMT

iRobot Lights Up SPARK for Robotics Education

I have thought for some time now that iRobot could really make an impact in robotics education.  The Robot Stock News blog has this article about the new program sponsored by iRobot that may finally be the thing that promotes robotics education for the company.  After all, they are pioneers in robotics, and as such, it is to their advantage to promote the learning side of robotics.  The iRobot Create has long been touted as an education tool, but I far as I know, it has never lived up to its billing.  Too bad, since I personally like the Create as an education platform.  Lots of potential for development in that system.  So, this is a worthy effort and one deserving of wide-spread support.  One thing for sure is that there cannot be enough robotics education programs.  Students love robots and robots will be the hook to get kids into science, math, engineering, and technology fields.

The photo thumbnail below links to the CNET article from January 7, 2007 on robots built using the Create base platform.  If you look there, you will see a robot that can hand you a canned beverage, a hamster-steered robot, and an robot that serves up advertisements.

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Photo Credit:  iRobot

Here's some real exciting news — iRobot is getting ready to debut a major new effort to kickstart robotics education. It's called SPARK, and iRobot is testing a new website to go along with the effort, with what looks like a dozen major partner. The website is at this link.

iRobot Launching "SPARK" Program to Ramp Up Robotics Education
thorn_stevens (noreply@blogger.com)
Tue, 08 Sep 2009 01:26:00 GMT