I have always known that robotics is an extremely helpful tool for improving young students' problem solving skills and technological literacy, but now there is scientific evidence to back it up! Researchers from the ACU School of Education have demonstrated that children who use robotics in the classroom exhibit increased engagement in their education as well as greater development of literacy skills, numeracy skills and interpersonal skills (McDonald & Howell, 2012).
Robotics is helpful in education because students find it tangible and exciting. Having been an instructor at Lego Robotics camps, classes and after-school programs for over 5 years, I have witnessed hundreds of success stories. Even students who are impacted by autism or ADHD are able to engage in Lego robotics because they can relate to it and enjoy it. I have seen these students not only excel at robotics, but also become more engaged in their coursework related to science and mathematics as a direct result.
Of course, I did not discover this by accident. I was 10 years old when the first Lego Mindstorms robotics kit hit the shelves, and I remember begging my parents to buy me one for Christmas. As a child, I spent countless hours on my bedroom floor tinkering with robotics designs and writing programs to solve various problems. I even made a robot that turned the lights off in my room after I left so that I wouldn't get in trouble with my parents for leaving them on. I know that my childhood education was benefited by these experiences, and that's why I am so dedicated to the cause.
Here's a call out to science and math teachers across the nation. Start using robots!
McDonald, S., & Howell, J. (2012). Watching, creating and achieving: Creative technologies as a conduit for learning in the early years. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43(4), 641–651. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2011.01231.x