An Elementary School Robotics Curriculum

I took a bash at putting together a curriculum structure for incorporating robotics into the elementary school classroom. The aim is to provide a foundation in robotics, spark interest, and promote skill development

Introduction to Robotics: The beginning of this curriculum introduces students to the expansive realm of robotics. Students learn the fundamental definition of a robot and the basics of its operation. Different types of robots that exist are also explored during this stage. Examples of robots in everyday life are highlighted, such as automated vacuum cleaners to interactive toys and even robots used in various industries. This foundational understanding aids students in recognizing the importance and applications of robotics in our contemporary world.

Basic Concepts of Robotics: In this phase, students explore deeper into the components and functioning of robots. They’re introduced to key parts of a robot, including sensors that detect the robot’s environment, actuators that enable it to move or interact with its surroundings, and the controller, which serves as the robot’s “brain.” They gain a basic understanding of how these parts work together to make a robot operate. An important component of this stage is introducing the concept of robot programming. Students learn that a robot’s behavior is dictated by a set of instructions or code, forming their initial understanding of how coding relates to robotics.

Hands-On Robotics Activities: The most effective way of learning about robotics comes from hands-on experiences. During this stage, students participate in interactive activities such as building simple robots or robot models and programming them using beginner-friendly, block-based languages like Scratch. They undertake engaging projects such as programming a robot to follow a line, navigate a maze, or respond to other environmental factors. These tangible activities provide a way for students to apply, experiment, and truly understand the concepts they’ve learned.

Robots and Society: Students are guided to consider the role and impact of robots on society in this part of the curriculum. They explore various ways that robots assist humans, from executing dangerous tasks in industrial or exploration contexts to assisting with everyday chores at home. An introduction to potential jobs and career paths in robotics is also provided, helping students envision future opportunities in the field. Moreover, ethical considerations concerning the use of robots and the concept of responsible robot usage are discussed. This is crucial as the pervasive presence and rapid advancement of robotics technology continue to have significant implications for society.

Assessment and Reflection: The last part of the curriculum involves assessment and reflection. Assessment helps gauge students’ understanding and the progress they’ve made. This might involve students sharing and discussing their robotics projects, along with quizzes testing their understanding of robotics concepts. The reflection phase provides students an opportunity to contemplate what they’ve learned, the challenges they encountered, and what they would like to explore or improve upon in future projects. It reinforces learning and encourages students to develop a self-directed and continuous learning mindset.

The NGSS performance expectations mentioned:

  • 3-5-ETS1-1: Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
  • 3-5-ETS1-2: Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • 3-5-ETS1-3: Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
  • 4-PS4-3: Generate and compare multiple solutions that use patterns to transfer information.
TopicContent CoveredStudent ActivitiesCorresponding NGSS Standards
What is a Robot?Definition and characteristics of a robot. Exploration of different types of robots.Class discussion and individual or group research assignments.K-2-ETS1-1
Examples of Robots in Everyday LifeDiscuss how robots are integrated into our daily lives. Examples of robots in households, industries, and other sectors.Students identify robots everyday and present their findings to the class.K-2-ETS1-1
Benefits and Challenges of RoboticsDiscuss the benefits and challenges of using robots. Includes efficiency, consistency, safety, job displacement, and ethical considerations.Class discussions and reflective writing activities.K-2-ETS1-1, 3-5-ETS1-1
Parts of a Robot (Sensors, Actuators, etc.)Overview of the key parts of a robot, including sensors, actuators, and the controller.Demonstrations and interactive activities involving toy robots or robot kits.3-5-ETS1-2
Understanding Robot BehaviorIntroduction to how robots perceive their environment and make decisions. The link between sensors, programming, and robot behavior.Observation and discussion of robot behavior, either with real robots or through videos.4-PS3-4
Introduction to Robot ProgrammingIntroduction to the concept of robot programming. Basic understanding of how robots follow instructions.Hands-on activities using simple coding platforms or programming a toy robot.4-PS3-4
Building Simple Robots or Robot ModelsIntroduction to building a basic robot or robot model. Understanding the materials required and the steps involved.Hands-on project building a simple robot or robot model from a kit or using materials like LEGO.3-5-ETS1-1, 3-5-ETS1-2
Basic Programming with Block-Based LanguagesIntroduction to programming concepts using block-based languages like Scratch. Understanding of concepts like loops, conditionals, and events.Coding activities using Scratch to control a virtual or actual robot.3-5-ETS1-3, 4-PS4-3
Guided Robotics ProjectsConducting projects that require building and programming a robot to complete specific tasks, like following a line or navigating a maze.Students work on projects in small groups, each building and programming a robot to complete a specified task.3-5-ETS1-2, 3-5-ETS1-3
How Robots Help PeopleDiscussion on how robots help in our daily lives, from household chores to healthcare and safety applications.Class discussion or presentation on different ways robots are used to help people.3-5-ETS1-1
Jobs and Careers in RoboticsExploration of the diverse career opportunities in robotics, including engineering, programming, design, and ethical considerations.Career exploration activities, such as researching different jobs in robotics and presenting their findings.3-5-ETS1-2
Responsible Use of RobotsDiscussion on the ethical considerations in using robots, including privacy, safety, and societal impact.Group discussions or debates on ethical scenarios involving robots.3-5-ETS1-1, 3-5-ETS1-3

What are your thoughts and comments? Anything obvious I’ve missed out? Do you think this might work?