PBL and Robotics

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Project-based learning (PBL) is becoming increasingly well-regarded and important in education. We learn more by doing, by active engagement, than we do through passive memorization. Engagement reinforces learning and long-term memory acquisition. PBL can provide, according to Wikipedia, “greater depth of understanding of concepts, [a] broader knowledge base, improved communication and interpersonal/social skills, enhanced leadership skills, increased creativity, and improved writing skills.” 

Here are two related video resources on Curriki. The first is a four minute overview of PBL and its benefits. And the second is a particular PBL activity for mathematics.

In the real world, whether someone works in private industry or in a government organization, the work often revolves around projects of one sort or another. So PBL is a great way to introduce students to skills they will need in the future. These include:

  • Recruiting team members
  • Teamwork
  • Finding sources for advice
  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Decision making
  • Planning
  • Breaking down problems into component tasks
  • Sequencing tasks
  • Researching required information and alternatives
  • Trying, failing, and trying again (persistence!)
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Measuring success
  • Iterating to reach desired quality
  • Presentation of results

One great area to look at for PBL is Robotics. Here’s an article from Science Friday that talks about the benefits high school students experienced working on a robotics challenge, including the teamwork they developed and the friendships that ensued.

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Photo courtesy of The Bot Side

And here is a resource for a high school level robotics project on Curriki. The project involves building a robotic machine to sort M&Ms, Jelly Beans, or Lego Bricks by color. This is a fun, two to three week project that involves engineering, physics, science, math, writing, and programming. Students will acquire a solid grasp of the programming language RobotC. You need familiarity with solving problems with robotic devices designed and built from Lego kits. The resource includes a video providing inspiration and a glimpse at other students’ solutions to the color sorting problem.

There are many resources on Curriki that could be part of PBL activities. We encourage you to search on www.curriki.org/welcome with “PBL” and “project-based learning”.

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