Educational Robotics for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics ER4STEM
Implementation period: 2015-2018
The domain of robotics is a multi-disciplinary and highly innovative field encompassing engineering,
design as well as social sciences, such as psychology. As a consequence, it does not only cover
mechanical, electronic and computer engineering, as might it be commonly perceived, but it also
involves other fields as mathematics, physics, biology, art and philosophy (e.g. studying existential
aspects of building intelligent robots). Therefore, robotics has been suggested as a field of powerful potential in education and with high expectancy to impact teaching from kindergarten to university. However, its real impact has not been formally determined neither guidelines have been provided to designers of workshops and lessons to combine different features, crucial for the success of any activity in educational settings. Moreover, recognized weaknesses of the current educational robotics approaches could hinder the impact of robotics in education.
ER4SREM project aims to encourage this curiosity of the children, showing them one really exciting hands-on application of science – robotics. We think that inspiration with the scientific disciplines, especially in younger children, could be encouraged very successfully with a project-oriented approach, which aims to teach theoretical concepts from science, technology, engineering and mathematics through their practical application.
Within the period between the months of February 2016 and May, 2018 ESI CEE organized free educational robotics workshops with more than 1000 Bulgarian students from several general education schools in Bulgaria. We used Arduino microcontrollers and visual programming languages to teach children between the ages of 7 and 15 the basic concepts of robotics and programming by building a robo-tank. The workshop also includes a creativity seminar based on the mind-mapping concept of Tony Buzan, which aims to encourage the children to discover additional practical applications of robotics in various fields of science and in everyday life. We also developed and applied an educational robotics workshops for visualizing basic mathematical concepts, stipulated in the Bulgarian national curriculum for mathematics for the 4th grade.