Every day there seems to be a new AI platform or company that graces the news. Whether it’s ChatGPT, Tesla’s self-driving cars, or Amazon Go – AI, and robotics, are everywhere. Children spend their days learning about English, basic math, geography, and history which are all important and foundational, but there are more skills young children need to learn to be successful later in life.
What if we told you there was a way your student could learn critical STEM skills to work for these companies we see on the news daily – the companies that are changing the scope of the workforce? You’d probably ask us to share more details.
Well, the good news is that there is a way you can help your students learn these skills and the answer is by starting a robotics club for kids.
Why should you start a robotics club?
Starting an elementary robotics club will have lasting effects on the critical skills students develop and use at a later age.
Not only will this introduce them at a young age to STEM as a potential career path, but it will help to build their confidence in STEM and will teach them at an early age how to work in teams.
The best part about these clubs is that they are fun! Children get to participate in hands-on activities that tackle real-world problems, rather than sitting at a desk to learn.
Steps for starting an elementary robotics club
If you’re ready to actually launch a robotics club for your young students, we’ve got some tips to get you started.
Know your school district’s requirements (and generate interest)
Some school districts have a minimum student interest requirement for new clubs to be established. Before moving forward with the following steps, it’s important to get a sense of the interest in your area for an elementary robotics club.
You’ll want to document the information of these students and/or parents so that once the club is established, students can formally join. This will also help you build your case about why a robotics club for your elementary school is so essential.
As you talk with students and parents, ensure you ask questions related to what they would be looking for in a robotics club, what they want to participate in, and what they want to accomplish. Are they looking for robotics kits, robotics classes, learning experiences, or something else? This will help you create a framework to help guide the remainder of the steps.
Determine any funding you may need and what your robotics club’s budget will be
Depending on the scope of your robotics club, you’ll begin to get a sense of what funding you may need.
For example, if you plan to participate in robotics competitions as a robotics team, you might not only need to fund the machinery for building robots, but also you might need to fund the travel to competitions.
As you put together your budget, keep reminding yourself of the story you want to tell with each of these financial and robotics club choices. When in doubt, keep focusing on how these robotics skills are crucial STEM experiences and skills each student can build.
Schedule a time to meet with your school’s administrator
Once you’ve gauged the interest in robotics in your community, now it’s time to share that with your school’s administrator and/or the school board so you can receive formal approval to move forward.
This is where you’ll also want to discuss any funding you would need from the district. The school administrator will likely ask to see a budget, so you’ll want to share what you compiled in the second step.
Work through the logistics of your elementary robotics club
All school clubs need a sponsor to oversee the club, and robotics clubs for elementary schools are no exception. A logical choice would be you, as the person starting the club, or a fellow teacher in the science department or another department in the STEM realm.
Once you find an adult sponsor, this supervisor will be a resource to you and will likely be present for meetings and will attend any competitions and trips.
Beyond solidifying an adult sponsor, you’ll also need to find a meeting location. Use your sponsor as a resource to help look at classrooms and poll your initial members to determine the frequency of your meetings.
Solidify what your robotics club will do
From your initial conversations with students, you already got a sense of what was of interest to your peers, and from meeting with your school’s administrator, you have a sense of what funding you might receive. Now it is time to finalize what activities your elementary robotics club will partake in.
Robotics club activities are wide-ranging, and we’ll highlight some of these curriculum ideas below.
Finding curriculum for your robotics club
Here’s a few robotics club curriculum options to consider as you start your robotics club.
This is a low-cost club activity as these platforms are affordable to install and various students can use one account.
If you want to offer robotics classes for your robotics club, connect with potential teachers to lead these courses or look for online courses, which are both affordable options.
These classes can teach students how to build and program and so much more.
Competitions are fun for students that like a deadline and like to show off their hard work.
This can remain affordable if you want to host a competition simply within your club (where you would only have to purchase the supplies). If you have a larger budget, your club could work together to travel to a robotics competition to compete together as a robotics team.
A beginner robotics club curriculum idea is related to robotics kits. Countless robotics kits on the market allow students to receive an introduction to robotics. This idea is best for elementary students that haven’t had much exposure to robotics yet.
Robotics kits vary by age and interest and if your club consists of true robotic beginners, you could also purchase robotics books for self-learning.
SAM Labs can help you launch your robotics club
As you get started establishing a robotics club at your elementary school, you may not know where to begin – but that’s where SAM Labs can help.
Sam Labs is a valuable resource that will help you launch your club by providing you with the materials you need to teach STEAM subjects in a fun and innovative way. Sam Labs curriculum is all you need to see lightbulb moment after lightbulb moment with your students.
To get started with Sam Labs, sign up for a free demo to get all your questions answered. In the meantime, take a look at our STEAM Solution and after-school program options to see how you can build the foundation of robotics skills in your elementary and middle school students.
Shaunda Douglas is a former educator with over 15 years of experience in all levels of education. In her free time, she reads, plays with her dogs, watches baseball, and loves a good nap.