Robotics for kids competitions are taking schools across the world by storm, especially in USA. This is a healthy trend as jobs requiring STEM are increasing and these competitions encourage children to pick up STEM skills.
This trend is specially encouraging as most schools in USA put more emphasis on sports and extracurricular activities rather than on STEM education. There are many fund raising activities for sports and other events but very few for science or math competitions.
According to a research conducted by First Robotics, one of the major organizers of robotics competition, there was a marked difference in the attitude of students who participated in a competition. Students who participated showed gains in positive attitude towards science related areas. The highest change was witnessed in the attitudes on grade 9th and 10th students
Paul McKinght of VEX Robotic`s says that robotic platforms and toolkits can be used by schools to enhance and engage students in STEM subjects. These competitions allow students to not only learn the technology aspect but also learn about the importance of human component which is essential in designing technology. Kim Vincente calls this the `Human Factor`which needs to be incorporated in technology designing. These STEM skill development which are neglected in schools help students to pick up valuable lessons and interests which are in high demand in the job market. These competitions develop and bring out the creative thinking, task oriented design and problem solving skills in the participants. Students learn to work in a team collaboratively and develop mutual respect.
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Texas Tech has encouraged competitions in schools to attract students to STEM education and later join the engineering streams. According to Tech’s T-STEM Center website, robotics activities, including competitions, give students the opportunity to incorporate lessons from STEM to construct their own robots.
As robots proliferate and enter our everyday lives, robotics for kids competitions will certainly show an uptrend. This is specially beneficial when girls get attracted to STEM streams. Jobs prospects in STEM, in general and robotics in particular are getting better and these competitions will help create the necessary talent pool to fill the STEM jobs.