Robotics as a branch of engineering involves the design, construction and operation of robots. Robots have very much been a part of our lives for a long time, working on industry floors and assembly lines.
Robotics as a branch of engineering involves the design, construction and operation of robots. Robots have very much been a part of our lives for a long time, working on industry floors and assembly lines. Of late, humanoid robots have emerged to captivate our imagination and excite our interest. Ongoing R&D in the field of robotics and advancements made in the field of artificial intelligence present an exciting future for robotics. Teaching robotics to young students can help instil scientific temperament in them. Subjects such as mathematics and science, when taught with robotics, can be more engaging as well as effective. Such an enquiry-based, hands-on learning approach can also increase students’ ability to be creative and foster innovative thinking, making them more productive. The job market at present is hugely dominated by STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). This trend will, in all probability, get stronger in the near future, with most of the available jobs requiring STEM knowledge and training. Robotics empowers students to visually comprehend the concepts on STEM and cultivates problem-solving and higher-order thinking capabilities in them.
By introducing robotics early on in the school educational curriculum, students can build interest in this field. Building a robot involves inference drawing, model construction and testing, and controlling a robot calls for the ability to give precise inputs. When done as a team, robotics calls for collaboration and communication. This teaches students valuable life skills such as teamwork, communication and community participation. The rationale for inclusion of robotics in education is thus a well-founded one. What, then, is standing in the way of large-scale introduction of robotics as a course in schools? The lack of awareness is probably a major barrier. From a teacher-led instruction system to focus on theoretical learning, schools have changed very slowly. But things are picking up now and schools have been co-opting technology on an increasingly large scale. Affordability concerns may also have been a barrier in the inclusion of robotics in the educational curriculum. In the present context, however, this concern might not be true any more, as the cost of acquiring parts has fallen, and with creativity robotics can be done cheap. We often hear stories of young enterprising students who have displayed creative ingenuity in assembling their own robots generally from scraps and throwaways. Such stories do demonstrate the appeal of robotics.
Monica Malhotra Kandhari
The author is MD, MBD Group