Anyone with a passing interest in smartphones, cars, and even toy robots can see that technology continues to impress. Some smartphones use Siri which learns from its errors and, in effect, has become what is known as “weak AI” (artificial intelligence). Newer cars have the ability to receive basic commands from its driver for temperature and music control and implement those commands to the joy of its driver and passengers. Toy robots continue to evolve and what was a toy a few years ago has now become an educational robot with sensors, cameras, and new types of mobility that has made middle and high school robot tournaments very entertaining.
It seems that over the next five years or so, STEM education will have an even greater impact on creativity and innovation. As STEM courses become part of the school’s core curriculum, robotics will serve as the central focus. Most parents support this notion and the two fields they want most for their children to pursue are science and engineering.
Benefits of Programming
Oxford University believes that at least 46 percent of U.S. jobs could become automated in the next 20 years. As such, it is important to learn the programming skills to understand what drives the mechanisms. In order to make the robot move, make adjustments, and learn, student innovators need to learn to program using Scratch, Python, C, or ROS (Robot Operating System) or other open-source software programs. On the lighter side, coding, programming, and robotics integrates the basic knowledge from three main STEM subjects – mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer programming. Not only is there cross-pollination under the auspices of play, robotics helps develop teamwork, coordination, and friendly competition. As mentioned previously, robots are increasingly being used as edutainment for students – having fun while learning.
The Future of Robotics
As STEM education seeks to keep up with the fast pace of technology, robotics will become the next computer industry. With an eye toward trends, robotics and their uses will become standardized since robots will replace some boring and dangerous jobs in manufacturing, in security, and possibly household chores. STEM education will focus around robotics and will function somewhat similar to the computer technology in the ’80s. As the fascination with computer hardware gave way to the software explosion, so will robotics hardware give way to programming and coding.