The need for robotics in SNC

An ideal opportunity to introduce new technology

The Single National Curriculum (SNC) is a laudable effort of the government of Pakistan. It is especially a revolution in education in the government school sector, and if implemented, will produce a generation of children who can think logically and apply their learning to real-life situations. It will streamline education and bring the public school sector up to the level of any private school in Pakistan. The government’s vision is to end educational apartheid and bring all schools up to par through the implementation of this curriculum.

The vision of the SNC is: “One system of Education for all, in terms of curriculum, medium of instruction and a common platform of assessment so that all children have a fair and equal opportunity to receive high quality education. Single National Curriculum is a step in that direction.”

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The SNC 2020 is an enhancement of the SNC 2006 and a great improvement in terms of encouraging critical thinking and providing students with a holistic education. The most welcome inclusion in the curriculum is the STEM and STEAM approaches which will equip the next generation with the basic knowledge of science as applied in technology, a major demand of this increasingly technical age. There is no doubt that SNC is a step towards the future for Pakistan, and society will benefit from it.

Although the SNC aims to implement and execute a scientific approach that would enable students to apply scientific knowledge to real life situations, the one glaring defect is that it does not introduce the subject of Robotics at the primary level.

Robotics gives students the opportunity to develop their reasoning skills and creativity in a unique way. It also develops the base for features such as reasoning and critical thinking. Especially in a country like Pakistan, exposing students in government schools to technology they will otherwise not have access to, will ensure that students across the board have the same kind of technological know-how.

According to a 2014 study made by David Scaradozzi, “In primary schools, robot programming is fun and therefore represents an excellent tool for both introducing to ICT and helping the development of children’s logical and linguistic abilities. Robotic teaching experiences have been carried out in Italian schools since 2000-2001, when the first project was proposed. It was called “Building a robot” and its description can be found in Merlo’s writing of 2010. Moreover, learning robots programming also becomes an opportunity for primary school pupils for developing their linguistic and logical skills, always focusing on pedagogical rather than technological issues.”

The trial study carried out in primary schools showed that children found robotics more engaging and thus early learning became more interesting and exciting. Studies have shown that in early years, young learners need more physical stimuli and learning is enabled more through physical learning than merely book learning. Thus, robotics should be implemented at the primary level so as to normalize the use of robotics, technology and computers.

In elementary school, students are still learning with their eyes and hands– drawing, moulding, and manipulating objects. They are starting the tough transition to learning by reading, and robots make it possible for them to work through problems visually and experiment with concepts they are learning.

Robotics is the future, many developed countries have realized its importance and it has been a part of the curriculum for primary school students for some time now in countries such as Germany, Netherlands, Czech Republic and Sweden. More developed countries have added robotics to their curriculum for primary schools in recent years and developing countries are following their footsteps with countries like South Africa, China and India having started teaching it in primary schools. In Turkey, STEAM education has been supplemented by robotics at the primary level and has proven to be a success.

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Yakaman and Lee described the importance of  STEAM as of vital importance to global culture by providing many opportunities for the students not only to be more interested in science-technology-engineering-art-mathematics but also to improve their occupational skills and attitudes.

Studies conducted worldwide suggest that robotics in STEAM education can provide a multi-sensory and experiential learning experience, which can significantly increase a learner’s capacity for learning. Using robots to teach STEAM can also help children understand how technology can be used to solve real-world problems. What better way to equip a child for the future than by starting in the primary years?

Robotics gives students the opportunity to develop their reasoning skills and creativity in a unique way. It also develops the base for features such as reasoning and critical thinking. Especially in a country like Pakistan, exposing students in government schools to technology they will otherwise not have access to, will ensure that students across the board have the same kind of technological know-how. Robotics at the primary school level will allow setting up a base for IT at a very young age which will facilitate an easier transition to IT at higher levels of education. The robotics environment can make primary school students use physical programming tools to make robot programming activities. The tool helps them learn quickly without the need to learn the complicated syntax and then can validate the results of programming that have been made. Other than the computational skills and problem-solving skills, skills like teamwork and communication are also developed since it requires the students work in teams.

It is therefore proposed that the curriculum may be divided between 5 years of primary education with the main objectives for grade 1 be:

  • Learning the ‘roboethics’ concepts with the introduction of Asimov’s literature and the three robotics laws
  • Gaining knowledge of the single mechanical elements through simplified programs of ordering and planning: learning the differences among shapes, materials, colors and functionalities of the elements presented on the market
  • Planning a model using LEGO system through a simplified program
  • Understanding the model verification and validation concepts in the work environment

For grades 2 and 3 they should be:

  • Acquiring the ability to attribute coherent purpose to a constructed robot
  • Introduced to the concept of ROBOT as a machine that must complete a specific task
  • Studying sensors and actuators through the comparison with human apparatus
  • Introduced the software programming for the LEGO WeDo system
  • Realizing a simple robot able to interact with the environment

For grades 4 and 5 the main objectives should be:

  • Acquiring the ability of attributing coherent purpose to a complex constructed robot.
  • Acquiring the ability of building a robot in accordance with specific and relative complex purposes
  • Planning a robot for a specific scope of research, that is able to live in a defined environment
  • Introducing software for robot analysis.
  • Realizing a technical manual for the final operator in order to explain how to design and realize a robot
Ayaan Waqar
The author is a student of C1 at Aitchison College Lahore.

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