Project Based Learning
Project, or problem-based, learning provides youth with hands on solutions oriented educational programming, that creates academic impact by virtue of a real world learning environment. In the case of ROBOTICON, students are exercising engineering, math, design, construction, teamwork, and strategic thinking in the course of a robotics competition. As an off season event, with a stronger focus on the game play aspects of the experience, students in FIRST teams as well as young spectators, get to enjoy robust learning opportunities that demonstrate the real world skills applications of what they learn through their season builds, particularly when they get to spend time with University of South Florida College of Engineering professors and students, and sponsors from the professional community.
The work that FCDI is doing through the Tampa Bay Advanced Manufacturing & Robotics Center (AMRoC) is focused on project based learning experiences. Some good resources for learning more about the power of Project Based Learning include:
- Buck Institute for Education
- Cult of Pedagogy
- K-12 Internet Resource Center – PBL resources
PBL Resources in Florida
- FACTE – Florida Association for Career and Technical Education
- STEM Florida – Connecting the Movement
Mentor Supported Learning
One of the things that makes project based learning most effective is combining it with mentor support from the professional community. Programs like FIRST, VEX and similar leverage the professional community to share time and expertise with youth. Mentoring is quite likely the most critical aspect of any youth experience, regardless of the learning platform. Youth who are able to spend time with mentors benefit from the attention of a responsible and trusted adult feel heard and respected, have a better understanding of real world experiences, and generally develop a better road map for their future.
Youth, particularly those in underserved, at-risk communities, benefit academically and personally from the influence of a strong mentor. Some good resources for learning more about mentoring include:
- National Mentoring Resource Center
- Mentoring Basics – A Mentor’s Guide to Success
- Youth Mentoring Programs – Community Toolbox
Project Based STEM Education
STEM education is probably among some of the easiest academic programs in which to apply PBL. ROBOTICON largely showcases FIRST programs our K-12 project based learning programs with energy and fun in a format that the general public can enjoy and in which young guests can also enjoy some hands on fun and learning! FIRST provides project based learning in alignment with Common Core and Florida state standards, as well as over $70 million in scholarships to participating high school students. The programs are inclusive, accessible and affordable, with significant grant funding available to new and existing teams.
Other PBL STEM robotics competition programs include:
- NASA Robotics Alliance Project
- World Robot Olympiad
- National Robotics League
- National Robotics Challenge