These students and educators illustrate the importance of building a K-12 robotics program to help students learn valuable skills.

As a former computer engineer with a background in applied math, I’m a firm proponent of STEM education. As a math teacher with 14 years of experience facilitating robotics clubs for students, I’m also an ardent supporter of programming and robotics as a vehicle for STEM ed, so when I had the opportunity to build a K–5 robotics program from the lab up, I leapt at the opportunity.

Our school is a brand-new Title 1 campus. We’re in our first year and just opened in August, so we’re still tweaking and learning as we go, but we’ve developed a solid foundation for introducing students—even those who are very young—to a range of STEM and other concepts in an environment that feels more like fun than work. Here’s how we did it.

Kindergarten & 1st grade

When I was designing the robotics program, I wanted to make sure we were building a bridge from kindergarten all the way to 5th grade and beyond, so our program is designed to be progressive throughout the six years students are with us and to set them up for more advanced robotics in middle and high school, should they choose to pursue it.

Related: 11 educators share how they bring coding into the classroom

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eSchool News Robotics Guide

The eSchool News Robotics Guide is here! It features strategies to help you effectively integrate robotics into instruction, along with tips to find the right robotics resources to successfully teach key concepts. A new eSchool News Guide will launch each month–don’t miss a single one!

For kindergartners and first graders, we use two products: LEGO’s STEAM Park and KinderLab’s KIBO.

STEAM Park uses Duplo LEGO bricks and gears, pulleys, and other simple machines to help very young children begin to understand concepts like leverage, chain reactions, motion, measurement, and even buoyancy, which isn’t usually introduced until 2nd grade.

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