Robotics @ QUT
Research shows these types of robotics activities contribute to improved literacy in ICT, skills and problem solving, metacognition and group collaborations
Robotics@QUT uses dynamic robotics activities to encourage Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) literacy, problem solving and collaborative learning in Year 6-12 school students. The program works equally well across a range of age groups and academic abilities, and serves as a hook for building interest across all STEM-related areas and in tertiary study. Teachers appreciate that the program is curriculum-connected, and parents love that it allows for whole family engagement.
Within Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Widening Participation (WP) program, the approach to school learning partnerships is to add value to curriculum with hands-on, in-school activities, delivered by tertiary students. The heightened engagement of school students leads to better school completion and achievement; and the tertiary role models and their personal narratives de-mystify university and build aspiration.
LSES Queensland schools have below-average participation and achievement rates in senior STEM subjects. STEM disciplines are key drivers of innovation and the economy, and LSES students need better access to STEM at school and beyond, if they are to have equal participation in society.
Robotics is a proven tool for engaging and motivating students to participate in STEM. Robotics activities provide plenty of fun for children, but also boost their technical and thinking skills. Students of all ages and abilities can participate in activities such as robotic art, robot drag racers, sumo robot wrestlers, solar panel cars, LEGO ® building challenges and DUPLO ® tower challenges.
- improves maths literacy, Information Communication Technology (ICT), problem solving, metacognition and group collaboration
- builds interest and aspiration for tertiary study
- enhances the school STEM curriculum
- engages the school community in student learning
- provides pre-service teachers with practical experience in LSES schools.
Started by QUT’s Faculty of Education in 2010, the program has been jointly funded (and significantly scaled up) since 2011. Current HEPPP funding covers coordination staff and pre-service teachers to deliver the program; free robotics kits for schools; professional development (PD) for teachers, including workshops with researchers from QUT and overseas; school-based robotics fun days for students and parents; and sponsorship to the FIRST ® LEGO ® League Robotics Competition.
Robotics@QUT involves over 30 LSES primary and secondary schools in the Moreton Bay region. Each year over 100 teachers participate in PD and run school-based robotics programs, assisted by pre-service teachers. Hundreds of students and their parents are involved in on-campus robotics challenges and fun days held annually. Research shows these types of robotics activities contribute to improved literacy in maths and ICT, and increased skills in problem solving, metacognition and group collaborations. Teachers surveyed report the program’s positive impact in schools.
The research to date about the reasons for STEM-aversion and university-aversion in young working-class people suggests links and overlaps worthy of further investigation. At the level of practice, emerging collaborations between mainstream STEM and WP outreach programs should be encouraged.
Further information about the Robotics @ QUT program is available on the QUT website.
This case study is one of a series of 39 presented in our case study publication, Access and Participation in Higher Education: Outreach – Access – Support.