Nevada Robotics is developing innovative literacy-based curriculum that incorporates robots as learning tools to teach Nevada Content Standards in ELA, math, and computer science. Lessons are developed based on themes in popular storybooks and include hands-on and engaging activities.
“We are so excited to introduce Books & Bots to PreK-5 teachers around the state,” says AJ Long, Nevada Robotics Education Manager. “What we are seeing is that the teachers appreciate the use of stories to teach math and computer science. And the use of robots means that the students are engaged and focused.”
Content Standards Creatively
Always Anjali is one of the books used for Books & Bots, and like all selections it tells a unique and special story. When Anjali looks for a bicycle license plate, she cannot find her name. Others tease Anjali about her name, and she tells her parents that she is changing it to Angie. Anjali’s parents explain to her that her name has special meaning – gift in Sanskrit – and that it was chosen especially for her. This fills her with pride, and Anjali makes her own license plate. During the Kindergarten Anjali lesson, students practice spelling their names and recognizing capital and lowercase letters by writing them and then touch coding a VEX 123 robot to the letters on a robotics field. They also practice counting letters and debugging any issues with their code. By asking themselves questions such as, “Why didn’t the robot go to the second letter in my name when I programmed it to?,” students are problem-solving, and practicing perseverance and patience.
Comfort and Joy
While preschool and elementary school teachers are well versed in children’s literature, using robots in the classroom may be intimidating for some educators. Our Books & Bots trainings are opportunities for teachers to learn basic touch coding with VEX 123 robots and to practice lessons with our experienced trainers. And we overwhelmingly see that once teachers work with robots, their confidence soars and they are hooked.
“My ah-ha moment was that it was possible for someone like me to teach or learn robotics and coding. I never thought of myself as being able to learn robotics or coding before (Nevada Robotics training). I have been a primary teacher for the past 16 years…. I wanted to keep up with the times and build more career ready minds starting as early as from Kindergarten and up,” wrote an elementary school teacher after a robotics training.
Never Too Young to Code
The Books & Bots lessons begin at the preschool level because we recognize the benefit of teaching STEM skills to Nevada’s earliest learners. And research backs up the value of introducing STEM to children as young as three years old. Exposure to computer science and STEM instruction at an early age can lead to improved language and literacy skills in the early years and for years to come as children progress through school. And robotics education inherently teaches and reinforces math benchmarks, which for Pre-K and K students includes competencies such as counting, representing addition and subtraction, recognizing and replicating simple patterns, and multiple Counting and Cardinality domains.
STEM at Home
Parents, guardians, and caregivers have such a powerful influence and impact on their child’s learning, growth, and development. Research supports that family engagement with schools, teachers, administrators, and learning is an important factor in ensuring a child’s success in school. A positive result of family engagement is a child’s development of early literacy skills. With CS-STEM education such as robotics, parents can benefit from guidance about how to be effective in supporting their children. To provide connections between our robotics lessons and families, we are working to create School-Home Connections. These handouts provide information about the lessons and include home activities and extensions that children can do with their families. Each School-Home Connection includes a DRI scientist profile so children can learn about the research that is happening around the state and world.