Kids are very good at learning through participating in activities. This is likely fueled by the fast-growing “maker movement”—a trend of hands-on activities involving learning, building, and experimentation. These three processes are especially evident in how robotics can be used to further a child’s education. In particular, the findings of the 2019 book Smart Learning with Educational Robotics emphasized how robotic technologies have emerged as unique tools that can keep learners interested and motivated. Take mathematical concepts, which can be challenging to grasp. With robotics, it's possible to visually show kids how numbers on a page interact with construction, movement, and real life as a whole. Igniting an interest in mathematics at an early stage in children through robotics will open them up to the possibilities of the subject. The stereotypical mathematician likely brings up an image of a professor scribbling formulas across a chalkboard, when in fact mathematicians have many career options open to them, from government offices to private labs and businesses. Below we will examine how robotics can make math more interesting. Using robots in school
The digital age has seen different ways to incorporate technology into the classroom. Though using robots to support lesson delivery is still uncommon, its benefits are becoming more apparent. In a recent experiment in Mexico, instructors decided to integrate robotics into their elementary, secondary, and high school classes to enhance active learning in mathematics. Here, a humanoid robot explained the topic at hand, guided the class in doing exercises, and sometimes even let students know whether the exercises had the correct results. Ultimately, the experiment in Mexico had positive results. Students became more engaged in class discussions and displayed a higher test performance and showed a better understanding following the principles of the maker movement. These robots are able to show how interesting math can be and keep students engaged.
Using robots in play
Many children can recall playing with robot figurines when they were young. We tend to label robots as toys, which makes it easier to incorporate educational robotics into playtime. For example, ball-shaped Play-i robots can be incorporated into learning activities like hide-and-seek, maze solving, and races. Here, youthful learners like yourselves can program how the bots will play while engaging in computational thinking so that learning is fun at the same time.
Using robots in activity centers
An activity center that focuses on math may not sound very interesting on its own. However, hands-on activities involving robots may better draw visitors' attention due to the novelty the experience provides. In fact, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University conducted an experiment at the Carnegie Science Center in 2022 and found that an intelligent exhibit increased learning and the time spent at the exhibit by four times the 90-second average of traditional setups. In our own Robotics exhibits at the Emerald Coast Science Center, you can experience various interactive robotic units. These range from health robots to underwater exploration units. Hopefully our exhibits will spark an interest in robotics so more students decide to pursue mathematics later in life. Exploring careers with robotics
The world of mathematics is multi-dimensional, as seen in the different ways that robotics can work within it. This multi-dimensionality means you can pursue your passion in all sorts of fields. Here are two very different examples:
The best part is that various industries are steadily adopting robotics across the globe. For those who are simultaneously interested in cosmetology and robotics, they can use their knowledge in math to build robots that can do hair, nails, and makeup. Engineers at Dyson spent hours reviewing footage of real-life hair stylists to program robots to imitate them and oscillate driers from side to side. Future prospects of robotics in cosmetology remain exciting, so there are many job openings for students if the beauty industry is one of their interests alongside mathematics. Healthcare
Students interested in robotics and the medical industry can dedicate their lives to programming medical robots. These relieve personnel from routine tasks and make the healing process of patients safer by monitoring the vital statistics of patients and aiding doctors during surgery. Robots are being built to save lives using mathematics, and students can see how they themselves can help build such robots through math. Robots and math can work hand-in-hand to create infinite possibilities for a future career. Unsure where to start? Visit our Emerald Coast Science Center and experience their synergy firsthand in our interactive museum.
Feature penned by Alexa Faith Derek
for Emerald Coast Science Center