Hands-on Robotics: The Future of STEM Learning is Building

May 16, 2023
STEM Education
whalesbot as robotics kit

Hands-on robotics education is increasingly recognized as one of the most effective ways to teach students real-world STEM skills. Unlike screen-based learning alone, physically building and programming robots provides an interactive experience where students can apply knowledge to solve concrete problems. Kids learn by discovering how things work through trial-and-error experimentation, developing an intuitive understanding of complex mechanical and software concepts over time.

Lego Mindstorms, Vex Robotics and WhalesBot are brands at the forefront of this movement, offering modular robotics kits for students as young as 3 years old to construct responsive machines using intuitive, simplified programming options. Research shows students engaged in building robots gain a deeper understanding of engineering and computer science fundamentals. With step-by-step examples to follow but freedom to build creatively, children learn coding basics by bringing their robotic creatures to life. They experience how changing one line of code or moving one wire can impact behavior and function.  

Authentic, hands-on learning opportunities lead to greater engagement and mastery of skills that translate beyond the classroom. Students evolve from consumers of technology to creators, building the abilities and mindsets to thrive as innovators of the future – a goal of educators worldwide. (Partnership for 21st Century Learning) WhalesBot aims to nurture those qualities through open-ended play, showing how robotics can excite students about STEM through the wonder of crafting interactive mechanisms firsthand.

“The maker movement is transforming education,” according to Dale Dougherty, CEO of Maker Media. Providing students space to create and physical materials to manipulate develops confidence in their abilities as builders and logical thinkers. Like Dougherty, WhalesBot believes every student deserves access to purposeful play opportunities where learning happens through the joy of building with technology as an extension of imagination. (Maker Media, 2020)

Hands-on robotics education opens young minds to new ways of thinking about what’s possible when we empower kids to dream up and develop their own ideas. With supportive guidance, robotics kits give students a chance to learn for themselves how things work – and a belief in their ability to build responsive machines. Prof. Mitchel Resnick of MIT stresses the importance of robotics in developing creative thinking and problem-solving skills that are critical to success in a rapidly changing world.

In a report on Coding in the K-8 Classroom, research firm EDC concluded that robotics and programming education should start early using interactive, unplugged activities to teach kids basic skills in an engaging way. WhalesBot provides solutions for children 4 and up to begin learning coding fundamentals through creative building and open-ended play. Using evolving difficulty levels, interactive kit components, and intuitive programming cards instead of screens, WhalesBot's guided robotics sets keep students challenged while nurturing belief in their abilities over time.

With support, all students can achieve through inspiring play that fuels curiosity about technology from an early age. WhalesBot believes robotics education should open more children to possibilities, not close them off due to lack of access or confidence. By putting tools for innovation and creation into more young hands today, we build opportunity for brighter futures where every student realizes their potential as inventors and leaders in STEM.

Hands-on robotics learning teaches skills that go beyond technical knowledge, nurturing persistence, imagination and an "I can build that" mindset in students from an early age. WhalesBot focuses on providing inspiring, open-ended robotics experiences accessible to all children regardless of gender, background or perceived abilities.

Research by Prof. Carol Dweck shows that fostering a "growth mindset" where abilities can be developed through hard work and persistence leads to greater achievement, especially for underrepresented groups in tech. (Dweck, 2016) Play-based robotics education that starts early gives students time to discover and pursue their passions at their own pace without judgment of their aptitudes. With support, kids build confidence in technical abilities by actively working through challenges, learning that failure is part of progress rather than a reflection of fixed qualities.

To close diversity gaps in STEM, we must provide students more opportunities to build a personal connection with robotics and programming in supportive environments. A study by Google/Gallup of over 1,500 people working in tech found that early, frequent exposure to CS through hands-on learning and role models had the biggest impact on their career choices. WhalesBot aims to inspire that excitement in robotics through guided learning products, project ideas and videos featuring underrepresented groups succeeding as young makers.    

Hands-on robotics education equips the next generation with crucial skills to become leaders in fields that shape the future. But access to opportunity must come first. When we empower more students to build and create without limits, STEM becomes personally meaningful as a way to explore passions and achieve goals through continuous discovery. WhalesBot believes that future takes shape when we put the tools for innovation into the hands of all children who dare to dream and build today what will make a better tomorrow.