I was a panel member for School Library Journal's very successful WEBINAR titled "GETTING STARTED WITH ROBOTICS" presented online January 27, 2016. I haven't been able to find a link to the session recording, but School Library Journal put out this very nice article (below)...
Getting Schools Revved Up About Robotics
By February 2, 2016
For teachers and librarians who think robotics is beyond their
understanding, educator Mark Gura has a message: Dive in. Your students
will enjoy learning with you.
“Why not discover robotics alongside your students?” says Gura, author of Getting Started with LEGO Robotics
(International Society for Technology in Education, 2011) “Having
teachers partner with students, to figure out what to do with them, to
me that’s all part of the do-it-yourself discovery, deconstructivism
approach to learning we’re all after.”
Lego Robot: Thinkstock/Cylonphoto
Gura, alongside teacher librarian Colleen Graves and Dream Workshop
founder and science teacher Sharon A. Thompson, offered takeaways on how
educators can weave entry-level, plus more advanced, programs into
their libraries and classrooms during a one-hour School Library Journal
(SLJ) webcast, “Getting Started with Robotics,”
the first in a three-part series
in conjunction with ISTE.
The primary takeaway? While robotics is overtly rooted in the world
of science, technology, engineering,and math (STEM), these tools also
lend themselves to great creativity. Students can challenge themselves
without feeling there’s a right answer or a wrong approach, say the
“I love how robotics focuses on the process and perseverance rather
than one right answer,” says Thompson. “When coding doesn’t work or
programming doesn’t work, it’s not a judgement, so kids don’t feel
During the webcast, Thompson encouraged educators to start robotics
programs, even with children as young as pre-K. She mentioned one tool,
the KIBO robot
noted by Graves—which allows children to learn the principles of coding
with simple, color-coded blocks. Another resource tip from Thompson: The
Lawrence Hall of Science
in Berkeley, CA, where young children were invited to add sensors to
animals built with recycled materials—and create a Robot Petting Zoo.
Base Circuit from LittleBits toolkit
Graves, an SLJ School Librarian of the Year finalist
in 2014, agreed that robotics and art “really like to go together,” she says.
For example, one challenge she gives students is to create art with robots. Some students used littleBits
to draw straight lines or random scribbles. Some of the other students from Ryan High School in Denton, TX
made art with Sphero by dipping the robotic ball in paint, and using lines of code to program it.
Integrate Robotics into the curriculum
Gura, the former director of instructional technology for New York
City’s Department of Education, is always excited to see how engaged
students are when working on projects that involve robotics. Instead of
seeing teachers struggle to get their students to complete their
assignments, he’d watch instructors struggle to get them to stop playing
with the robots. That reaction alone tells him a robotics club isn’t
sufficient exposure to this technology.
“We want robots integrated into the full instructional format,” he
says. “It’s far more important than what can be done in an after-school
For some schools, however, paying for robotic kits is a hurdle, or a
“bugaboo to getting people started,” says Gura. But, he points out that
kits can be used for multiple students, with multiple classes, over
multiple years. Investing in just a dozen kits or more can seed projects
for an entire school, he says.
“I would encourage people to think this through with budget decision
makers or perhaps with fundraising in mind,” says Gura. “At first this
might seem an expensive investment for schools. But bear in mind these
materials are durable. Students build robots, they put the parts back
into a kit, and other kids use the same parts again and again.”
Read the full article at its source: www.slj.com/2016/02/technology/getting-schools-r