Schools at all levels all over the world are using robot arms to teach STEM subjects. Why are robot arms so great for teaching?
There are a few reasons, that we have found by providing the LittleArm to dozens of schools.
Many of the STEM robots out there are modular kits, such as Lego Mindstorms. While these kits are great platforms and offer infinite possibility, they often offer too much possibility.
Teachers are heavily worked. It is difficult to create an entirely new curriculum around basically a pile of parts. While open ended projects are great for STEM they end up creating such unstructured learning that there is no way to know if learning has occurred.
Basically these build from scratch sets leave so much open that they overwork the teacher and do not leave a quantifiable means of determining progress.
Robot arms are only arms. It is easy to tell when it is built and what it can do. Kits like the LittleArm keep students and curriculum focused.
Now even though focus is necessary, a little flexibility is always great. This ensures that the school gets the full value of the investment into the kits. It is tough when a kit is built and then does 1 thing. Kids get bored and teachers get bored.
Robot arms offer the flexibility needed to keep it interesting. Unlike just mobile robots, arms can be highly interactive, they can have their grippers changed out, they can be taught to dance. In this sense, an arm offers a great amount of flexibility without losing the foundation of being an arm.
Where am I going to use this in the real world? This is the question that often kills theoretical education of topics. Toys are very theoretical. It is tough to explain how a baking soda volcano has a practical application in the world. Or how a line following robot is vital to becoming an engineer.
But robot arms are used all over the world. Show a kid the LittleArm or a similiar kit and then point to the industrial robot arms in a factory. They are the same thing. There is a very concrete real world comparison and answer to the "application" question.
Kids can even use the LittleArm to create miniature versions of assembly lines. Just like rocket scientists create model rockets, robot engineers need to create small robots identical to what they will make in future.