Dr. Ikseon Choi, associate professor in the Department of Career and Information Studies in the University of Georgia College of Education, has initiated a new robotics lab at a local school through a partnership with South Korean robotics company RoboRobo. He has worked with the Department of Career and Information Studies’Research for the Advancement of Innovative Learning (RAIL) Program to create new curriculum for fifth-grade classrooms in Georgia counties based on the technology.
Choi, who is a professor in the UGA online M.Ed. in Learning Design and Technology (LDT) program, turned an idea from a RAIL meeting about robotics into a visit by the South Korean company RoboRobo, a manufacturer of educational robotics. From a workshop at the College of Education, this idea turned into a program for teachers in Barrow County, then a partnership with RoboRobo that provided $20,000 in kits and outfitting a robotics lab at the Sims Academy of Innovation and Technology in Winder, Georgia.
RAIL researchers then developed curriculum to integrate mathematical applications, scientific inquiry and engineering design while building robots and programming them for a given mission. “Accessibility of good STEM education is an issue, in the United States and elsewhere,” says Choi, “We bring that into our research.” In many schools, robotics is an after-school activity, and because not all students can stay after school, they can’t all access this. Since the robotic application Choi and his team are implementing is tied into regular class time, it gives all students the opportunity to interact with building and programming this robotics technology.
The curriculum, which not only teaches students the steps to build a robot, but also to think ahead and calculate their plan before executing it, is taught to Barrow county, and other counties’, faculty members through workshops that take place throughout the year. The spring curriculum in Barrow County was such a success that it led to the school district’s first-ever robotics competition, which the students absolutely loved. Choi and the RAIL team are continuing to develop relationships to further the future of STEM-integrated education and robotics. “Now we are not only looking at Barrow County,” Choi says, “but across the United States and beyond.”