The layout of a classroom can have a large impact on not only what is taught, but how. As a result, a question I’ve frequently encountered over the years is, “So how exactly do I set up my robotics classroom?”
When unpacked, this is really a two-part question. It first deals with function: how and where am I going to store everything? It then deals with use: how do I utilize my space in order to complete all of the activities that I want to do? While the first part is answered mostly through logistics, I believe the second is best answered by curriculum. A good curriculum is flexible enough to be used in many different implementations and is a crucial ally when pursuing a highly functional robotics classroom.
Experienced teachers of educational robotics have learned via trial and error some of the best ways to store what is needed for their classes. Heath Lauster, a teacher at North Allegheny Intermediate School, uses a large cabinet with unique shelving to help store everything he needs for his VEX IQ and VEX EDR robots.
This is very similar to what one would see at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Academy (@CMUCMRA):
Solutions For Traditional Classroom Settings:
A lot of teachers may not have the shelf and/or closet space to accomplish what Heath and the Robotics Academy do to store their parts. Bonnie Sikorski at West Allegheny Middle School is able to efficiently store her robots while operating in a traditional classroom setting:
Bonnie’s classroom also has an efficient way to store her Clawbots:
My classroom was always set up similar to Bonnie’s, and a priority of mine in designing my own set-up was wanting to keep the kits intact. That ensured I could look at what was purchased in a kit and do an inventory to make sure that pieces were not being lost. Rack Solutions has partnered with VEX Robotics and come up with a great way to store and use kits:
The two things that really impress me about this storage solution is the fact that is has charging stations and it is movable. My previous teaching role often involved traveling to different classrooms. Obviously having this would have been a tremendous help. Also, I had to clear all of my robots out of my classroom at the end of each year and a solution like this would have made that process so much easier.
Here are some other examples of successfully storing and arranging classrooms using VEX Robotics Utility Racks. Notice how the utility carts can also be used as a student work station:
All teachers understand that unforeseen difficulties will always appear, no matter how organized a classroom is. Hopefully the ideas shared in this article can help to mitigate some of those issues and bring out the greatest potential of both the students and the robotics kits themselves.