Educational robotics bridges the gap between rigid lessons and lessons that are too unstructured to motivate students, McKenna said. VEX Robotics leans heavily into the idea of guided problem solving–the idea that students have enough structure to understand their challenge or task, but enough space to explore different solutions.
Teachers ensure students have the background knowledge to begin the challenge and they set expectations for what success looks like. As students move through a challenge and the problem-solving process, teachers take away some scaffolding that was in place in earlier stages. Students can achieve their goal in different ways, trying different approaches and processes.
“You want a level of guidance and structure, and as students progress, you slowly take that scaffolding away and allow students to apply creative solutions to the problem,” he said.
This type of STEM exploration helps students realize that they can be STEM students.
“There’s no such thing as a math brain or a reading brain. We can become good at anything if we put enough time towards it,” McKenna said.
How computer science education bridges the digital divide
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