Robots Introduced to Elementary Schools Focused on STEM

Robots are being used to help students in elementary schools across the country learn about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Students in Crestview, Florida will be introduced to BOLT, a robot attained through a grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity. The schools received the grant due to their high volume of military families in attendance.

"Antioch is one of the five Okaloosa elementary schools to have the PITSCO labs that received these awesome robots for their school to incorporate into their curriculum," teacher Laura Pink stated in an email.

BOLT is a 5-foot-tall robot with the capability to move forward and backward, say "hello" and "thank you," and laugh. According to the manufacturer's website, BOLT costs $6,999.

"Our goal is to use the robot for students to program, and incorporate it into teaching lessons, events at school, etc.," Pink said.

PITSCO is a national company that develops curriculum for STEM courses as well as teaching materials. The company has labs in four other elementary schools in the state.

A program in its second year at Carmel Elementary in Clarksville, Tennessee has students building their own robots. Kirk Steer and Robert Perrin visited the LEGO Robotics club from Hendrickson International earlier this week, who donated $500 to the group.

"We manufacture trailer suspensions in the heavy truck market and do a lot of robotic welding. So this is technology that directly relates to what we do and are trying to foster in the work force," Perrin said.

The club, made of 20 boys and 14 girls, currently has 3 robots, purchased through parent donations. With this additional donation they hope to buy 3 more.

"Our robotics club provides an opportunity for our students to grow, learn and develop the critical thinking skills and is a great way to learn teamwork," Principal Rosanne Sanford said.

LEGO Robotics are also being used in a new interactive class for students in grades 4 and up at Northern Illinois University. During the course students will build and program LEGO robots to accomplish missions similar to those performed by the Mars Rover used by NASA.

"LEGO Robotics has always been a popular class, but this connection to NASA takes the learning a step further," STEM Outreach associate and physicist Jeremy Benson said. "Students can see how the concepts they are learning have real-world applications. They can understand how tinkering with a toy robot today could lead to discoveries that revolutionize the way we think about life on earth and across the solar system tomorrow."

Similar clubs with a focus on robots are popping up across the country, such as Armuchee Middle School's Technology Student Association in Georgia, who recently held a TSA spirit night to show off their new creations.

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