Introducing coding and robotics to primary school students begins with understanding their current knowledge. Start by asking them to draw a robot and discuss their creations as a class, emphasizing that robots come in various shapes and forms and can perform diverse tasks.
NASA has developed a range of activities that showcase the use of robots in space exploration, particularly Mars missions. Engage your students in hands-on activities like simulating a robotic exploration or analyzing data from the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. Inspire their curiosity by watching NASA’s Robonaut 2 demonstrate its robotic hand in action.
Encourage creativity by having students construct their own robotic hands using materials like card, straws, and elastic bands. Discuss potential real-life applications and let them illustrate or write down their ideas.
To familiarize students with programming, introduce programmable toys like Roamer, Pro-Bot, or Bee-Bot. Allow them to experiment with the device, discovering its functions and capabilities. Alternatively, use “Fake-Bot” templates to help students practice sequencing programmed moves. Challenge them to navigate their robot through an obstacle course using unchangeable directional instructions.
For upper primary pupils, dive deeper into programming by creating 2D or 3D robots out of card, focusing on how commands translate into code. This activity helps students understand the coding process behind robot movements and reactions.
Integrate robotics into various subjects by having students move like robots in drama, design costumes for a robot parade in art, or analyze robot illustrations in literature like Ted Hughes’ “The Iron Man.” Watch “The Iron Giant,” a film adaptation of the book, and encourage students to compare the two versions, discussing their preferences and reasoning.
By incorporating coding and robotics into primary school education, teachers can spark curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking skills that prepare students for the rapidly evolving digital world.