STEMpower

Idaho's Youth Robotics Week

STEM learning often begins with hands-on tasks. While textbook learning certainly has its place, interactive fields like robotics help students understand STEM concepts. Robotics combines and essentially embodies mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science, and has become increasingly intriguing to curious minds since the early 20th century. Although the most common conception of robots is machines that are human-like in appearance and operation, a better definition is that they are intelligent systems that can be programmed to perform duties that are oftentimes left to humans. As technology rapidly changes and improves, the trajectory of automation changes, too. That is, while the oldest robots could only complete mundane tasks, robots can now be used to carry out assignments that are too dangerous for even humans.

In March of 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution officially declaring the second full week in April as National Robotics Week. Since then, many states have proclaimed dates for their own respective Robotics Weeks, most recently being Idaho, which was declared by Governor Otto as being August 7th through the 13th. The intention behind setting aside certain weeks dedicated to robotics is to not only create interest in robotics but to foster excitement and appreciate for STEM learning.

To celebrate this occasion, PCS released its Discover Robotics & Programming II curriculum. The curriculum uses the same software and building manipulatives included in Discover Robotics and Programming I to engage students in 40 additional hours of programming activities, which have been expertly structured to foster creativity, ignite imagination, and build technical literacy as students design solutions to robotic challenges. Moreover, it teaches more advanced programming logic to builds critical thinking skills, a cross-curricular technique that is aligned to various national teaching standards, including Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, and the International Society for Technology in Education.

As the 21st century brings new challenges, it is imperative that students are equipped to meet such demands. Part of ensuring maximum preparedness begins with an adequate understanding of STEM and the ability to apply STEM reasoning to solve problems. While not all states have declared a formal Robotics Week, many leaders are recognizing that robotics learning is integral in forming and shaping minds, and can impact students’ lives beyond the classroom. This is an exciting time, and PCS is proud to be an educational partner!

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