Parklands College integrates robotics as a compulsory curriculum subject

| November 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

There has been a phenomenal interest in robotics from learners at Parklands College.

Robotics was added to the extracurricular programme at the college in 2012 and has now been integrated as a compulsory subject for Grade 1-7 learners. Extracurricular robotics is also still available to grade 4-9 learners, for extension and competition preparation.

Parklands values programming skills

Robotics is a stimulating subject that helps children develop and strengthen their critical and creative thinking skills, as well as expand their social interactions, through the construction and programming of robots. The visual and tactile nature of robotics allows us to teach programming skills to our young learners with ease. We believe that these skills are vital tools for success in the 21st century working environment. In our weekly timetabled slots, the junior preparatory learners explore the WeDo lego kits,1 whilst our senior preparatory students experiment with the NXT kits.2 During the extracurricular sessions, learners have the opportunity to extend their robotics investigation with the EV3 robotic kits.3

The World Robot Olympiad

There are also opportunities for learners to test their skills against other robotic engineers in the World Robot Olympiad (WRO).4 In November this year, the national champions will represent South Africa in the WRO World Finals, taking place in Sochi, Russia. The timed challenges in the WRO are designed for learners in three different age groups: elementary, junior high and senior high. Teams can build their robots from any unmodified genuine LEGO pieces using the LEGO NXT or EV3 robotic kits. The elementary challenge requires competitors to collect three components of a rocket, put them in the correct order on a rocket launcher, face them upright, and then evacuate all personnel to safety – all within two minutes. Robots have to identify lines and colours, move around, as well as scoop up and drop objects to complete the challenges. The junior high challenge requires students to design and programme a robot that can remove both failed satellites (represented by red balls) and space debris (a red cube) from an orbit, whilst leaving the functional satellites (blue balls) alone. The robot then has to switch orbits to make contact with another orbiting factory robot so that it can transfer the red objects into it for repair and disposal. This challenge represents a real-world scenario, where many failed satellites and space debris can make contact with working satellites or space stations and cause great harm.

Fabulous futures ahead This unique offering not only allows us to prepare our learners for a future in professions related to engineering and science, it also equips them with skills that are transferable to a variety of other global industries. 

This article was written by the Parklands College robotics teaching and learning team.

References: 1, 2 3. See: http://www.creativeplay.co.za/. 4. See, for example: http://www.wroboto.org/.

Category: e-Education, Summer 2014

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