Robotics is all the rage these days. It’s no surprise that you’d want to bring robotics to your homeschool. In this article, we’ll explore tangible ways to start working with electronics, writing computer programs, and eventually building robots.
By the end of this guide, you’ll understand:
- What the basic requirements are for robotics;
- How to Learn Robotics at Home;
- What kits to buy for each age group;
- Where to find robotics curriculum; and,
- How to get your program started!
So gather up your kids, call all the co-op parents, and let’s put together that homeschool robotics program!
Prerequisites for Learning Robotics
Robotics is a complex subject that combines electronics, mechanics, and computer programming. But before we can talk about the “cool stuff” like circuits, sensors, and coding, it’s critical to have a few basic skills:
- Touch typing; and
- Working with computers (opening files, downloading programs, etc.)
Master the Art of Touch Typing
Typing might sound like the most ridiculous thing I could add to this guide, but I’ve worked with enough students to know that it’s 100% neglected. If I had a dollar for the number of times a student has asked me “where is the X button,” I could take a fancy trip to the Caribbean.
You can learn to type online using a free tool like Keybr or a paid program like Type To Learn. (That’s what I used growing up.) Typing is a skill that pretty much everyone assumes you have. Get ahead of the curve by spending 15-30 minutes per day learning how to touch type. Once your child becomes a touch typing wizard, you can make it exponentially harder by using a keyboard cover or completing a typing test.
Navigate a Computer
Secondly, your child should have experience working on a computer before taking robotics classes. And, I’m talking about a laptop or desktop computer running Windows or macOS (not tablets).
How can you make a sophisticated computer if you don’t know what a computer is?
There are a bunch of guides on how to use a computer, download and install software, open and save files, and the basic parts of a computer. Spend some time working on the computer and learning how it works before starting your robotics journey.
How to Learn Robotics at Home
The best way to start learning robotics at home is to set a schedule, follow lesson plans and robotics curriculum, and purchase a robotics kit. Let’s explore these areas in more depth.
Set a Schedule
If you want to gain any new skill, it’s important to practice. I recommend spending 2-3 days per week for 30-60 minutes per day on robotics. For more advanced middle and high school students, 4-5 days might make more sense. For younger elementary students, I recommend 20-30 minute micro-sessions to help keep them focused.
In our Arduino for Beginners course, we provide example schedules to help you plan out when to take each lesson. You can choose to take the course as a semester-long elective or expedite your learning if you’re following the quarter system. Regardless of how many days you set aside, consistency is key. It’s not helpful to work on robotics once every couple of weeks. Students will forget what they learned previously, and you’ll end up repeating the same topics.
Typically, it’s pretty easy to convince your child to learn robotics. Let’s face it. Working with electronics, code, and building robots is fun! You’ll probably have a harder time getting your child to refocus on other subjects because they’ll be excited to add features to their robot more than anything else!
Follow Lesson Plans or Utilize Robotics Curriculum
Do you already have STEM classes as part of your existing homeschool curriculum? Then you might be more interested in checking out a robotics eBook or our printable robotics lesson plans. For those of you that enjoy teaching a variety of STEM topics and don’t want to be married to a full-blown robotics course, then a mini project like our Tiny Robot Cars might make more sense.
But, if you’re looking to dive feet-first into your robotics program, then the first thing you’ll need is some robotics kits.
Best Robotics Kits for Homeschooling
Robotics is unlike a lot of homeschool subjects because there’s a hardware component. In this section, I’ll share three robotics kits designed for elementary, middle, and high school students.
Best Elementary School Robotics Kit
One of my favorite robots to use with kids ages 5-11 is the Meet Edison Robot. If your kids love building things, consider this a robotics upgrade to the boxes of LEGOs you already have! Meet Edison robots are programmed in a flow-chart language which is great for younger students. You don’t have to worry about small hands trying to type out words.
Additionally, you can also code the robots from any tablet with a headphone jack. As your child advances, these robots do too – you can begin programming with Python. Learn more about the Meet Edison robot in our quick start guide.
Best Middle and High School Robotics Kit
If you have a child who’s interested in more intermediate-level robotics and programming, then you’ll want to check out our online robotics courses. Our open-and-go kit plus online lessons provide students with all of the hardware and projects they need to build a fully autonomous robot. The best way to learn new skills is to be hands-on, so after a new concept is introduced, we practice these skills by creating a project.
If your child doesn’t have prior programming experience (either with Python or C), then I recommend taking our Level 1 course first. This will prepare your student to work hands-on with electronics and circuits while gaining coding skills. Then, in Level 2, students will assemble their robot, program it, create custom libraries, and solve robot challenges. It’s a great way to introduce beginner and intermediate concepts without needing an adult with prior engineering or tech experience.
On the other hand, if your student is more advanced, I recommend putting their creativity to the test by designing a custom robot. You can choose either the Mini WiFi Robot eBook as a manual or design and build a custom robot with this guide.
In both of these projects, the goal is to use previous knowledge to design, build, program, and test a fully automated robot. This is an excellent capstone project idea for students looking to enter science fairs or have a showpiece for their college application!
Robotics Curriculum for Homeschool
Robotics curriculum is created just like all the other subjects. However, it’s a bit more complex because there are so many subjects combined into one.
When I’m writing the robotics curriculum for Learn Robotics Courses, I like to start with an idea, a problem, or a project and work my way backward. You can do a quick online search for robotics project ideas. Or check out this list of 35+ robotics projects that I’ve compiled for you!
Just know that if you’re not a “tech person” these projects might feel very overwhelming. I always recommend working with an online course or guide if it’s your first time teaching a robotics class. That way you’re not struggling to fill lessons with topics you’re not 100% sure of.
But if you are up for the challenge of generating your robotics curriculum, here are a few pointers:
- Think of a problem or device that would make someone’s life easier, then try to build a robot to solve that problem.
- Brainstorm or research ways that robots are used today. Then base your course around those topics.
- Visit sites like FIRST or VEX to gain inspiration from their robotics competitions.
- If all else fails, watch a couple of episodes of Battle Bots to get excited about robotics!
If you’re not sure what direction you want to move in, I recommend signing up for the Level 1: Coding & Circuits or Level 2: Robotics courses. You’ll gain immediate access to all of the lessons as soon as you enroll, and it takes the pressure off of trying to figure out what to teach and how to teach it.
Independent Study vs. Teaching Robotics Classes
It’s important to consider how much teaching you’ll have to do when implementing robotics into your homeschool.
Some questions to think about are:
- Do I want to teach the class or use it as an Independent Study?
- Can my child learn these concepts independently or will he/she need help?
- Am I willing to learn basic robotics so that I can help when my child gets stuck?
- Or, am I willing to invest in supplemental materials to help my child gain robotics skills?
If you aren’t looking to become a Robotics Engineer and teach robotics in your homeschool, we offer independent open-and-go online courses to satisfy requirements for middle and high school robotics classes.
Learn Robotics Online Courses are designed with the student in mind. After you enroll, you can learn alongside the online lessons. We use a mixture of video, pictures, and written formats to appeal to all learning styles. Plus, all of our courses are aligned to 21st Century Learning Standards including Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Computer Science Teacher Association Standards (CSTA), and Common-Core Mathematics.
After each section, we present a quiz (which is automatically graded, by the way), to test your child’s knowledge. You can review your child’s progress at any time and rework any lessons as needed.
Additionally, we have hands-on projects to support the theory behind the concepts. You don’t have to know anything about robotics to use Learn Robotics Premium Courses in your homeschool.
We’ve made it super easy for anyone to get started with robotics at home. And, if you get stuck, we’re here to help you out! Consider us your teacher’s aide when it comes to learning all things robotics!
Once you finish the course, we’ll send you a Course Certificate which is great for college applications!
How to Get Started with Robotics
Robotics is a fun, yet complex subject that can provide a lot of value to your homeschool. You can incorporate robotics into your existing STEM curriculum by introducing a capstone project or a special topics lesson plan. Additionally, robotics can be taught as a stand-alone elective course by introducing concepts in electronics, mechanics, and computer programming.
Once your child is comfortable writing code and working with components, the next step is to start building robots from scratch. No matter if you have experience working with robots or not, adding a robotics program to your agenda is doable with the right tools and curriculum.
Finally, if you’re looking for a straightforward approach to bringing robotics to your homeschool, join me in a Learn Robotics Online course. Here you’ll gain access to interactive modules, auto-graded quizzes, and mini-projects so that you can spend more time working with your child and less time trying to decipher the world of tech.
Have you implemented robotics in your homeschool?
Let me know what you think in the comments below! Then, share this article with a friend who enjoys robotics and tech!