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How can teachers get students’ attention and motivation easily?

Learning processes in school might seem old and boring, both for teachers and students. In a world where keywords such as innovation and STEAM skills are everywhere, the challenge arises: How can we stay up to date with the latest knowledge gaps for the younger generations? How can we prepare the kids for an employment market where the requirements are constantly adapting to the newest tech releases?

We don’t yet have a solution to fit all the educational institutions’ pain points, but we do have several action plans that will reshape the way teaching STEM skills is approached.

Let’s start with competitions!

Research shows that competitions encourages students to work harder, study further and in the process – boost their confidence. When competitions are being organised in the classroom, the students are far more focused on outperforming their rivals, but most important: they start with outperforming themselves! Group competitions encourage teamwork while individual competitions nurture soft skills.

And it’s not always about winning, competitions are mostly about the energy & spirit that enhance its benefits. While winning gives the adrenaline, happiness and motivation, losing is the best teacher – it allows students to further develop and research intro way of getting better and wiser – therefore, winning next time! Moreover, that’s when the teacher plays an incredible role – the one of a mentor, whose presence will guide and encourage students to look further into the issue and don’t give up!

Competitions, if managed correctly, have an amazing outcome for both teachers and students and are also a great way to switch the boring curriculum lessons to engaging activities that develop more than hard skills!

Fable Spin Football Tournament

With all these reasons in mind, we put together an activity sheet specially designed to challenge your students’ coding skills, creativity and innovation.

First, start off with dividing the students into an equal number of teams taking into consideration the number of Spin Modules the class owns.

Our recommendation would be to have groups of 2-5 students for each team.

After setting up the teams, you need to decide which coding option comes first. Our advice is to organise three different phases, one for each coding option provided. Therefore, each team gets the chance to code Fable Spin using three different programming options. 

IDEA! Top 2 teams are challenged to play one final round of Spin Football and to control Spin using another coding option. No clue what to use? How about Follow the Leader? How about trying to code Spin in Python directly? If you’re running Fable Blockly on a PC/ Mac you can easily switch to the Python Editor by pressing the last icon from the menu bar.

What do you need to set the Tournament in motion?

  • One Fable Spin module for each team competing in the Tournament
  • One Smartphone holder for each Fable Spin
  • One Smartphone with Fable Face App installed and running
  • One Fable Hub for each Fable Spin module
  • One castor wheel and one plow per module to assure the stability of Fable Spin

Optional: 

  • A Construction Bundle for each Fable Spin Module to build your own Fable Spin Robot
  • Creativity BOOST – Get two empty cardboard boxes and build your own Football Goals – no rules implied! 

Do you want to discover the instructions, coding options and tournament rules? Download the activity sheet here! 

Don’t forget to share with us on Social Media videos & images from your Tournament using #FableSpinFootballTournament

In October, our Fable team had the opportunity to organise a workshop at ReDi School in Berlin. ReDI School offers education to break down barriers and connect the leaders of tomorrow. They use technology to connect human potential with employment opportunities with dignity and humility. ReDI is a non-profit social enterprise who values reliability, usefulness, care and playfulness.

They are doing a great job in inclusion, educating and sharpening the 21st century skills of the children involved, reshaping the way they are used to being taught STEM skills – just like Fable does!

Our amazing International Partner Channel Manager – Shân Mari Linnet Nissen is sharing her experience of teaching coding with Fable to a passionate group of students aged 7 to 14 years old. The digital leaders of tomorrow worked in groups exploring playful activities and challenges while also building humanoid robots.

Collaboration, Innovation and Coding 

The students’ age differences made them work with peers and also develop teamwork and collaboration skills. Within the teams that were created, the students explored different roles such as: product owner, developer, creative thinker, and so on. 

Students had to complete two different tasks that challenged their creativity as well as their problem solving skills while also combining lesson based themes like Newton’s laws. Our approach was based on a cross-cultural experience that combines coding and aspects of various subjects.

The first challenge was based on working with the Fable Joint module. Using the throwing arm, the teams of students had to throw as many balls in the net as possible. 

The learning goal: working together as a team on coding the correct angle of the throwing arm based on Newton’s laws and experiencing the debugging process based on trial and error.

The second challenge was created around the Fable Spin module. Using Fable Spin, the students had to collect as many toy parts into a given field as possible while also competing against other groups.

The learning goal was focused on developing teamwork skills, communication skills for discussing the strategy and coding the best solution for winning the challenge. Moreover, the mission also followed a debugging process based on developing trial and error problem solving skills.

Moreover, both challenges followed the red thread of offering students the opportunity to take ownership of their learning.

By being part of these educational workshops, our main goal is to facilitate children the skills they need to own in order to become part of the future workforce. Only by developing STEM skills starting with early ages we can help secure a brighter future for the children of today.

The whole experience felt like a lesson for both parties involved.”

After the challenges were over, Shân and the students explored different solutions for today’s professional challenges that Fable can solve. The students came up with lots of great ideas that emphasised how the world can be changed with the necessary knowledge and a good heart.

“Working with kids never ceases to amaze me! Even if some of the students don’t have the same advantages as lots of other kids around them, they were incredibly smart and empathetic, generating more and more ideas about how Fable can solve everyday’s problems in people’s jobs. We talked about different labour groups and which chores these people would find difficult or time consuming. Together we continued to explore how we could use Fable to solve these problems. One child said that a hotel receptionist might be lonely, so we should create a robot friend to spend time with. A young girl told me she would love to make a robot that was able to paint and help caretakers so they don’t have to bend down that much and get tired easily. It’s amazing how much we as adults can also learn from kids’ ideas and concerns. The whole experience felt like a lesson for both parties involved.”  Shân Mari Linnet Nissen – International Partner Channel Manager 

Lots of problems of today’s world can be solved by technology and these amazing kids are part of the future – they need to have access to coding and tech resources, to develop problem solving skills, creative thinking and teamwork in order to grow into adults concerned about improving the world around them! 

We are grateful for the opportunity to be part of these educational workshops while also following our main goal – to facilitate children the skills they need to own in order to become part of the future workforce. Only by developing STEM skills starting with early ages we can help secure a brighter future for the children of today.

Creative software developer for robotics startup

Apply for the role as a software developer at Shape Robotics to help us shape the future of modular robots.

You will be developing the software applications for new robotics products while also taking part in a collaboration project between Shape Robotics and the Child Cancer Department at Rigshospitalet. Join our team of developers and engineers who are driven to push the boundaries of what it means to teach using robots.

Responsibilities: 

  • Design and development of user interfaces
  • Development of software applications
  • Collaborating with stakeholders, incl. Rigshospitalet
  • Testing & co-design with users
  • Quality assurance of robotic products
  • Preparing production ready software releases

Qualifications: 

  • Talented software developer (primarily Javascript & Python)
  • Solid interaction design skills
  • Well-structured, independent thinking & project management
  • Motivated, creative and pay attention to details
  • Newly graduate or with several years of industry experience

__________________________

We offer a salary corresponding to the qualifications of the right candidate. Workplace with be at our offices in Farum.

We look for someone to fill in the position as soon as possible.

We look forward to receiving your short application in Danish or English with accompanying CV to David Johan Christensen, CEO, at david@shaperobotics.com.

__________________________

About us: We build Fable, unique robots for teaching 21st century skills. See our presentation video

Fable is now closer to 30M students & educators worldwide!

Fable Blockly now runs on Chromebooks, laptops that run Google’s Chrome OS and that have been built for a learning purpose using insights from educators and students. 

There are several advantages you can find with Chromebooks:  

  • Share devices easily between students
  • Boots up in seconds and works on and offline
  • Built for durability to handle student wear and tear
  • Unlock creativity with curated apps for learning
  • Automatic updates with an Internet connection

Ever wonder why a Chromebook has lower-case letters on the keyboard instead of capital letters like most other keyboards? That’s part of Google’s requirements. For a small child learning how to read and type, it’s important that a key be marked with what it will print on the screen when pressed. Ingenious! (source: https://www.androidcentral.com)

Besides the Chromebook’s educational oriented specifications, it also connects the world of education. “Google shared the fact that 30m Chromebooks are now used in education which is up by 5m from its last reported figures back in 2018. This growth can partially be attributed to the education systems of many countries choosing to use Chrome OS devices and G Suite in their classrooms.” (source: https://www.techradar.com)

Therefore, running Fable Blockly on Chromebooks is allowing us to reach students and teachers across the globe. Our company’s mission is working hand in hand with the latest software release: to make Fable as widely available as possible to students globally.

What is new in our Fable Blockly Chromebook App?

Most of the features that you are familiar with are present here as well. For example, you can easily move a Fable Joint, change the color of any module, or even play a custom sound that you’ve recorded. Additionally, there are some platform-exclusive features!

  • Code wirelessly without needing a cabled connection between the Chromebook and the Fable Hub – just use Bluetooth!
  • You can use the new text-to-speech block if you want the Chromebook to say something out loud.
  • You can use the built-in accelerometer sensor to detect the rotation of the device for different uses (e.g. plotting it or setting the speed of the Fable Spin).
  • On those Chromebooks that have a touch screen, you can use the touch blocks if you want to see how many fingers are touching the screen, or the average position of those fingers.
  • Finally, the Chromebook can detect if it’s being shaken. You can (and should) use that as an event trigger for something ridiculously cool!

You can already download the app! Just visit the Play Store or our download page.

Do you want to try out some of the new features in an engaging lesson plan?

Mechanical engineering position at fast-paced robotics startup in Farum 

 

Apply for the role as a mechanical engineer at Shape Robotics for a chance to shape the future of modular robots. You will be working with a diverse group of engineers who are driven to push the boundaries of what it means to teach using robotics. Advance your experience working in concept design, design for manufacturing, rapid prototyping and maintenance of designs. 

 

Responsibilities: 

– Product development

– Design for rapid prototyping/3D printing

– Updating product line

– Updating of blueprints

– Design For Manufacturing (DFM), including documentation

– Cost optimisation of current portfolio

– Working with many stakeholders and manufacturing partners

– Certification protocols (CE, ISO) 

 

Qualifications: 

– Skilled with Computer Aided Design tools, preferably SolidWorks

– Applied materials science (know-how)

– Proven experience in utilising CAD simulation and evaluation analysis

– Ideally, experience with designing tools for molding

– Newly graduate or a few years of industry experience 

__________________________

We offer a salary corresponding to the qualifications of the right candidate.

We look for someone to fill in the position as soon as possible.

We look forward to receiving your short application in Danish or English with accompanying CV to Moises Pacheco, CTO, at moises@shaperobotics.com.

Interviews will be held in English. 

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About us: We build Fable, unique robots for teaching 21st century skills. See our presentation video

On 11th of May we had the pleasure to attend RobotFestival in the beautiful “Universe Science” Park in Denmark. We had a wonderful time there and met a lot of smart and creative kids and their families. Why do we say that? Because we also ran a contest for the kids with two robotics games where the best participant won a Fable Robot. So, we tested out their STEM skills and passion for robotics. We were happy to discover that no matter the age all children did a great job at working with Fable for the first time.

Let’s learn more about the competition we organised there. We held two contests, each of them with a maximum score of 20 points. 

Challenge 1: Blow up the balloons using Fable Spin. 

For this contest the participants had to build a robot that could blow up balloons using a needle. 

There were 4 balloons placed randomly on the field. One balloon with helium fastened with a 1 meter cord mounted on a ball stand in the centre of the field. The robot had to start in the corner of the field. Of course that the robot wasn’t allowed to leave the field during the try and it was only allowed to be remote controlled. Each participant had a try limited to 3 minutes, but they could try as many times they wanted.

Challenge 2: Move the balls with Fable Spin

For the second contest, the participants had to build a robot that would move table tennis balls from one half of the field to the other. For this, five red ball stands were placed randomly on one end of the field with table tennis balls on top and five blue ball stands were placed randomly on the other end of the field. 

The rules: the robot had to be remote controlled, it couldn’t leave the field during the try, and finally the challenge started in the right corner of the red field. Each participant could try out the challenge as many times as they liked, 3 minutes per try.

 

We would like to thank all participants for their courage, skills and dedication. We congratulate our winner, a young determined kid that was able to win the Fable Robot with maximum points! 

Stay tuned for the next events where you can meet Fable and our team. We’re preparing many interesting surprises!

 

By Diana Aldea

How teaching robotics can tackle the lack of STEM skills in the UK - Part 2

Addressing the current STEM skills gap in the UK

Here at Shape Robotics we believe that learning STEM skills is much more than just attending class. It’s the integration and hands-on approach of several subject areas such as innovation, programming, robotics and real-world problem solving – building 21st century skills and STEM knowledge.

Robotics, just one of those areas has become an excellent example of how using technology in education (EdTech), can combine both mathematics and science subjects using a creative and innovative STEM approach.

The best part about teaching STEM skills is it has no age. From middle school to secondary school and all the way to university level, anyone with drive and curiosity can discover Fable and learn transferable programming skills they will later use to shape the world and fulfill real needs.

Why teach robotics?

  • Teaching robotics provides technical and interpersonal skills students need to meet current workforce demands, drive economic growth and solve what could be the world’s next big problems. These skills are helping nurture every child’s potential to be a leader, an innovator and an inspiration while becoming the critical thinkers and creative problem solvers of tomorrow.
  • Students who participate in robotics generally have a good attitude towards science overall. The hard skills students acquire while learning robotics are connected to programming, coding, science research, engineering and technology.
  • Robotics teaches soft skills like teamwork, collaboration, communication and leadership. All of these are beneficial when integrating in the workplace and help to establish interpersonal relationships.

Robotics inspires a lifetime love of learning, creativity and logical reasoning that are critical to success in an ever-changing workforce. Educational institutions are key players in introducing robotics to students in an engaging way and teaching skills that will be necessary in many of the jobs that today’s students will occupy.

The Fable learning system has been developed to encourage and assist both teachers and students every step of the way. Shape Robotics offers lesson plans and teaching materials that aligns with various national curriculum. This means that the process of integrating robotics into classrooms can be made easy for any school or teacher around the world.

By Diana Aldea

Disclaimer: This article was written by Shape Robotics for FE NEWS. You can also access the full article here: https://www.fenews.co.uk/featured-article/28138-how-teaching-robotics-can-tackle-the-lack-of-stem-skills-in-the-uk
How teaching robotics can tackle the lack of STEM skills in the UK - Part 1

Current situation

The UK’s economy is at risk due to the shortage in STEM skills – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – where there is a gap in professionals to take over existing vacant positions.

According to a May, 2018 report, the shortfall in STEM graduates is costing the UK economy £1.5bn per year. 400 HR directors and decision makers participated in a survey that highlights several key points regarding the evolution of STEM professionals in the UK:

  • Shortage of STEM skilled staff – 9 in 10 employers are having a difficult time recruiting skilled staff in the STEM industries leading to an average of 10 unfulfilled roles per business and a shortfall of more than 173.000 workers.
  • Longer recruitment process – involves more resources and increased costs that are challenging for the recruitment industry. As a quick solution for the situation, 48% of STEM businesses are searching abroad for the right professionals.
  • Education and experience mismatch – in STEM industries there is a large gap between the skill set valued in education and the one employers are searching for. In addition, not many schools are including STEM skills as part of their curriculum and therefore young professionals are not acquainted to the industries at all.

The core of the growing STEM skills gap stems somewhat from the education system level, from school to university. To compliment this, there is also a lack of professional training in the workplace.

It could be said that some STEM teachers are lagging in qualifications when compared to others teaching these subjects. This lack of qualifications tends to be higher in less affluent areas and schools:

  • In areas outside of London, just over a third (37%) of maths teachers and just under half (45%) of chemistry teachers in less advantaged schools had a relevant degree. In more affluent schools outside of London, the proportions are far higher for maths (51%) and chemistry (68%).
  • Shortages of highly-qualified teachers in these less advantaged schools appear to be the most severe in physics. In the worst-off schools outside of London, fewer than 1 in 5 of physics teachers (17%) have a relevant degree. In more affluent schools outside of London, the figure rises significantly to just over half (52%).

Danish company Shape Robotics’ vision aims for the continuous development of easy to use teaching robots designed to help everyone from younger school pupils to university students acquire 21st century skills and gain knowledge in STEM industries.

The company’s mission remains today: to make the teaching robot Fable as widely available as possible to students globally and to actively be involved in their development by collaborating with schools and teachers all over the world.

The Fable System offers learning at all levels from comprehension of technology in primary and secondary school, over mathematics and informatics in high school to vocational training programmes in industry and construction.

142,000 new tech jobs in UK by 2023

Research conducted by The British Computer Society reinforced the idea that the shortage of applicants in STEM industries is tightly related to the low number of students graduating with the skill sets necessary to fill these roles.

  • A-Level results released in 2018 show 15,149 students passed an A-Level in either Computer Science or ICT – down very slightly from 15,161 in 2017 despite there being more vacant positions requiring these qualifications.
  • The number of students passing Computer Science increased from 7,851 in 2017 to 9,772 in 2018 – a rise of 24% – while the number passing ICT fell for a fourth consecutive year, from 7,310 in 2017 to 5,378 in 2018 – a 20% decline.

Jobs needing STEM skills are projected to grow exponentially in the next few years. The UK expects to create an additional 142,000 new tech jobs by 2023; given the current gap in skill sets, hiring for these positions will become extremely tough and competitive.

By Diana Aldea

Disclaimer: This article was written by Shape Robotics for FE NEWS. You can also access the full article here: https://www.fenews.co.uk/featured-article/28138-how-teaching-robotics-can-tackle-the-lack-of-stem-skills-in-the-uk