Robotics is an increasingly common sight in classrooms as schools look to effectively engage pupils with STEM subjects. But if it is limited to use in coding or computer science lessons, students can be stuck with the perception that what they’ve learned has a very specific place within the curriculum.
An increasingly autonomous future means that robotics will play an ever more dominant role in our lives with the next generation set to fill job roles that are yet to exist. Cross-pollination of skills encourages the creative thinking that will be invaluable to students when they reach the workplace. So restricting edtech to the computer science room limits its potential to inspire learners and encourage the creative application.
With budgets under significant pressure, there is also the need to justify every cost. But by making resources available to every department, their value is rapidly demonstrated and justified.
MekaMon, with creative features such as an integrated stopframe animation studio, lends itself perfectly to this sort of application.
Cumnor Primary School
Science specialist teacher Jules Pottle used MekaMon in a lesson with year 5s on space exploration.
“I used MekaMon to create an interactive link between past, present and future space travel. We started by watching Astronaut Chris Hadfield singing Space Oddity and the trailer for his masterclass on YouTube. Then, we had a chat about space missions and how you train for missions with parabolic flight and why you are weightless in orbit.
“I introduced current robotics technology being used such as the latest JPL Robosimian which have four legs and are anticipated to be the future of space exploration. They also look a lot like MekaMon! For the final hour, the children used MekaMon as a ‘Mars Rover’ to negotiate obstacles by adjusting its height, step and gait.”
Whitchurch High School
Head of department Mike Williams, who is also D&T Association Inspirational Teacher of Design and Technology Award Winner 2018, used MekaMon in a design and technology lesson with year nines.
“Design and technology is increasingly linked with computer science. In order to prepare them for the jobs of the future, it is vital that students are literate when it comes to hardware/software integration and embedded systems. This makes MekaMon a perfect tool for demystifying these processes.
“First, we started with an introduction to MekaMon. Once they were confident on how to use their MekaMon they then started with their first mission – making loops. They had to make the MekaMon travel in a square pattern. More advanced pupils progressed to a side mission where the MekaMon had to move in different geometric shape patterns.
“The pupils learned so much, loving the easy-to-use coloured interface. They became really personal with their allocated MekaMons and some pupils even named them!”
Year 4 teacher Leiba Sablon used MekaMon in a PSHE and SEN lesson.
“There is evidence to suggest that the use of robots encourages more anxious pupils to participate and volunteer if it means that they can work with robots.
“The expressive movement and character of MekaMon means that it can mimic many human reactions through body language. This makes it a fantastic tool for supporting SEN children, in particular autistic and non-verbal students, to identify and interact with a variety of emotions – and create their own interpretations using MekaMotion.
“These applications could reach into subjects like English and history, offering students with additional learning needs a pathway into complex themes using MekaMon as an engaging guide.”