Starting an after-school robotics club is a great way to unite students and spark interest in STEM. But, if you’ve never started a club, you may not know how to get the ball rolling or what activities to offer. Sphero is here to help. In this article, we’ll explore how to start a robotics club as well as a few fun activities to keep kids engaged. Let’s dive in!
Why is Robotics Important?
Some students are intimidated by subjects like math and science that are notoriously “scary topics.”Introducing a robotics club to your school can help change this narrative. Students will learn through robotics that although STEM topics can be challenging, they’re also exciting. And like many other extracurriculars, robotics clubs foster a variety of skills and interests. These skills can be used to help students succeed in a STEM career or any vocational path they choose.
Examples of these life skills and how they are developed include: using team building activities, like designing and testing robots, and teaching students how to communicate and problem-solve with their peers. Working in a team teaches students critical life skills like leadership, listening, and creative problem-solving. And successfully navigating a team environment can improve confidence and make students more likely to accept challenges enthusiastically.
How to Actually Start a Robotics Club
Gauge Student Interest
Most schools require a minimum number of students to express interest in a club before they allow it to become an official after-school activity. So before you bring the topic up with administration, poll your classroom to see how many students are interested.
If no one is eager to sign up, bring robotics into your classroom to spark student interest. One way to engage students is by letting them design their own robots. Younger children may enjoy designing robots with craft materials, while older students may want to try an educational robotics kit.
Find a Leader
So you’ve discovered that plenty of students are interested in the robotics club! That’s great news, now it’s time to decide which teacher will be the club’s sponsor. If your school already offers robotics classes, that teacher would be a good choice. If not, reach out to other STEM teachers and see if they would be interested in helping out with the club.
Some robotics projects may require additional adult supervision. In that case, it may be helpful for parents to volunteer from time to time. Sending flyers home with students that provide information about the club and asking for parent volunteers is a good way to gather the help you need. You may also be surprised at how many parents are excited to participate in their kids’ after-school activities!
Establish Club Objectives & Club Norms
Without set objectives, your club may be at risk of becoming an after-school recess. Before your first meeting, ask students what they want to achieve by participating in the club. Potential goals could include learning coding skills, practicing mechanical designs, or competing in robotic competitions.
After establishing the club’s goals, have the students write a mission statement. A manifesto helps create a strong foundation for your organization and will serve as a guide when the club makes decisions. When crafting their robotics club mission statement, ask students to consider what the club does, how the club does it, and why the club exists. Next, have students create a list of norms that they all agree to in the robotics club. Examples can include trying again after failures, sharing time with robots, etc.
Robotics Club Activities
Now you know the steps to take to start your school’s robotics club. But what activities should the club participate in once it’s started? Outlined below are our favorite robotics club activities to keep students engaged.
Many students find a little healthy competition fun and motivating. When students compete, they often strive to go beyond what is asked of them to win. This helps develop a strong work ethic and resilience to try again in times when they fail.
To help facilitate competition, schools can host internal contests that showcase students’ hard work. Students interested in competing on an international scale can participate in Sphero’s Global Challenge. For this challenge, Sphero provides teams with a mission brief, lessons, and team meeting agendas for each event. The top-performing teams then compete virtually at the Sphero World Championship.
Research suggests that students learn best when actively participating in enjoyable activities. So rather than preparing a lecture about robotics, why not have students learn about robotics in a fun way? Ready-to-code robotics kits help students bring robotics to life in a way that feels like play.
When choosing your kits, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you need to choose the correct kit for the correct age group. If a kit is too easy, students will get bored, but if it’s too challenging, they may get discouraged. It’s also important to consider how many children will work on each kit. Some kits are designed to be completed individually while others are designed to be completed as a team.
Cross-curricular instruction is a way of teaching that incorporates more than one subject into a lesson. This teaching style can be incorporated into your after-school robotics club as well. Choosing a new book about robotics for students to read each month helps them experience the topic in a new format and entices bookworms to join the club.
Here are a few of our favorite books to get students excited about robotics.