From Birding to Robotics: Integrating STEM Learning Through Community Collaboration
by PRP Group, on 08/28/2023
As technology advances, an increasing number of elementary students are finding inspiration in STEM subjects, especially robotics and coding. This interest has led to an engaging service learning project taught by preservice teachers hosted at a nearby nature center. Elementary students from an urban independent school joined with nature center educators and robotics experts to use the engineering design process to mimic nature using coding robots as shown in Figure 1. What inspired these young engineers to take on this challenge? A closer look at the birds outside provided the perfect motivation.
This article exemplifies the transformative power of community collaboration, as STEM education meets real-world, hands-on life science, inspiring the next generation of young minds to "soar" to new heights. This project combines the wonders of birding with the limitless possibilities of robotics, igniting a spark of excitement in STEM education. This study investigates the effectiveness of connecting integrated STEM learning with nature-based experiences, with the ultimate goal of enriching elementary students' learning and extending their knowledge of integrated STEM topics. Although we focused on birds and robotics for our project, our template could be adapted for just about any topic and any location—even remote learning! Wherever you are coming from, whether it is urban, suburban, or rural, K–12, college, or non-traditional education, reaching out to the community is beneficial for all partners involved.