We were pleased to grant Longdean School a grant towards the purchase of a NAO 6 humanoid robot. This exciting project was applied for by Tracy Doyle (Finance Director) and Shakeel Rathore (Director of STEM) who explained Longdean’s existing focus on STEM and how the robot would further:
“…boost interest of students in electronics and technology. We have a STEM stream now in Y7 and Y8, and after school STEM clubs totalling 70 students. Robotics is one of the projects that we are using to enthuse the children and we have already obtained grants and invested in the purchase of a whole class set of VEX IQ.
Year 6 induction pupils, also 6th formers have been offering support to the KS3 STEM club and we are arranging 'Masterclasses' from ex Longdean pupils now studying at university.
As a humanoid, interactive figure it will massively increase the profile of STEM and act as a clear attraction for students interested in joining the STEM stream. We envisage taking NAO out to our feeder primaries, and using her to welcome visitors at open evening. It will also allow DT staff without previous experience to learn about robotics and give the chance for 6th formers to work alongside KS3 students.”
However, just increasing interest and motivation in STEM subjects would not be enough to pass our criteria so Shakeel discussed how the robot would enhance learning as well:
“A great way to introduce STEM and deep dive into students’ learning with variety of skills related to STEM subject. For example, students are able to program the robot to walk a geometric shape, they can apply skills that they have learned in other STEM related subject classes. When they write code for the robot they are applying computer science and basic technology skills, but they are also thinking logically, like mathematicians or technology/engineers.
It allows students to design solutions to problems. It goes beyond algorithms and mathematical thinking. A big part of it is logic and teaching young learners how to think. The programming and math go hand-in-hand because there is some computation involved in programming. But also there is computational thinking, providing young learner a platform and learning experience that involves thinking logically, problem solving and analyse about the next step in their coding with the robot.”