March 12, 2012 AT 9:49 am

ASK AN EDUCATOR – “How do I start a robotics program at our small academy in Ibiza, Spain!”

Richard asks:

Hi im going to teach an introduction to robotics course in a small academi in Ibiza, balearic islands, spain. Any hints an how to focus the course or a good tool to follow for the course?
I will start with lego mindstroms, but my idea is to do a second course introducing programing , electronics, arduino….

Thank you very much!

One of the ways I like to add new topics to my curriculum is to look at student competitions, like Odyssey of the Mind, and model my labs after some of their challenges. You might want to look at the competitions that Spain’s FIRST LEGO League uses and derive labs around the skill-sets your students would need to compete. Typically when working with middle and high-school students, it is good to work down two main paths, electronics and mechanics. You also might want to check out a previous post of mine that goes more into detail about how I helped start our Freshman Robotics Program. We now teach ~450 students a year about basic electronics, programming, design and manufacturing through the design and construction of unique two(or more)-wheeled robots.

After I have decided on the focus of my curriculum, I like use the Engineering Design Process as the foundation for creating labs as it really helps the students see how a problem can be solved through simple steps. These problem solving skills seem to be one of the bigger problems facing today’s students and this process helps them make their designs a reality. This just so happens to be one of the beauties of robotics in education as it allows the students to let their imaginations dictate the outcome of their projects.

On an aside: During my research on this question I stumbled upon a really cool website, RobotEvents.com, that has a ton of information and a MAP showing the location of robotic competitions world wide.

I hope this has helped to answer your question and good luck with your program!

Next up is MauiJerry with a question about STEM…or is it STEAM and teaching Art and Design to science/engineering students!

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