New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Integrating Robotics across the Primary School Curriculum

Maeve Liston, Mary Immaculate College (Ireland)

Abstract

Ireland’s Digital Skills Strategy 2015-2020 (DES, 2015) aims to further embed technology and digital learning tools in primary and post-primary schools where all stakeholders work together to support the integration of ICT in every classroom in a systematic and focussed way. The strategy aims to ‘realise the potential of digital technologies to enhance teaching, learning and assessment so that Ireland’s young people become engaged thinkers, active learners, knowledge constructors and global citizens to participate fully in society and the economy’ (DES, 2015, p. 5). This research paper reports on the design, development and implementation of a week-long Robotics Summer Course for In-service Primary School Teachers. The design of the course was a collaborative endeavour between academics in Initial Teacher Education in STEM, employees from the technology industry, primary school and post-primary teachers and the Professional Development Services for Teachers in Ireland. The course focused on the potential of integration ICT across the primary school curriculum by embedding a constructivist pedagogical orientation over the week-long course, showing teachers how to facilitate activities whereby learners can exercise creative, problem-solving, critical thinking and project work and team-working skills (Key Skills Framework: NCCA, 2009). The course also focused on using ICT to “support an enquiry process and enable their Students’ to work on solving complex real-world problems” by engaging in “collaborative project-based learning activities that go beyond the classroom” (Butler et al., 2013; p.8).

This paper will present findings from the teachers’ evaluation of the course, reporting on their opinions on: their confidence, knowledge, ability and overall competencies in how to integrate robotics into their classroom; the design of future robotics summer courses and; the use of robotics in their future teaching. The findings can be used to inform future policy in technology education and development of technology courses for pre-service and in-service primary teachers and development of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities run by Technology Companies.

Keywords: Robotics, Primary, STEM Education, Professional Development;

References

[1] SFI (2015) Science in Ireland Barometer. An analysis of the Irish public’s perceptions
[2] and awareness of STEM in society.  http://www.sfi.ie/resources/SFI-Science-in-Ireland-Barometer.pdf
[3] National Research Council. (2011). Successful STEM Education: A Workshop Summary. A. Beatty, Rapporteur. Committee on Highly Successful Schools or Programs for K-12 STEM Education, Board on Science Education and Board on Testing and Assessment. Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
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[5] Department of Education & Skills (DES) (2015) Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020. DES: Dublin. Available at https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/Digital-Strategy-for-Schools-2015-2020.pdf 
[6] https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Corporate-Reports/Strategy-Statement/Department-of-Education-and-Skills-Strategy- Statement-2016-2019.pdf
[7] https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Corporate-Reports/Strategy-Statement/Action-Plan-for-Education-2017.pdf
[8] Ireland’s National Skills Strategy 2025; https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/pub_national_skills_strategy_2025.pdf 
[9] https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/Arts-In-Education-Charter.pdf
[10] National Strategy: Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life; https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/lit_num_strategy_full.pdf
[11] Vasquez, J.A. Comer, M. & Sneider, C. (2013) STEM Lesson Essentials, Grades 3-8. Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. New York: Heinemann.
[12] Jolly, A. (2007). STEM by design. Strategies and activities for grades 4-8. New York: Routledge.
[13] Benitti, F.B.V. (2012). Exploring the Educational Potential of Robotics in Schools: A Systematic Review. Computers & Education, 58(3), 978-988.
[14] Scaradozzi, David & Sorbi, Laura & Pedale, Anna & Valzano, Mariantonietta & Vergine, Cinzia. (2015). Teaching Robotics at the Primary School: An Innovative Approach. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. 174. 3838-3846. 
 

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