3D-printed robots teach kids science

Lauren Williams's picture
Thursday, July 11, 2013

Children at a U.S. grade school are learning about technology by making inexpensive 3D-printed robots, and the courseware is available for students almost anywhere.

Brian Patton, an elementary and middle school science teacher at Princeton Friends School in Princeton, New Jersey, is using 3D printing to engage children in science, technology and math (STEM). Kids as young as 11-12 are creating robots in Patton’s classes, a recent blog post by 3D printer manufacturer Solidoodle says.

Building robots is a new Trojan horse for teaching STEM, and Patton has observed that robotics is very engaging for female students who may not otherwise have been as interested in computer science as male students (female students react more favorably to the facial expression robots vs. things like fighting robots linked  in the video below). The technology has also been used as a tool for emotional amplification with special needs students.

UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute has found that only 1% of students are majoring in computer science, and 0.3% of those are women, despite computer science skills being in high demand. Patton believes that robotics can help address that asymmetry by making computing more interesting for girls.

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