A new learning project that will enable teachers to develop skills in robotics and autonomous systems, to facilitate academic success, is being launched by researchers from the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of Johannesburg (UJ).
The project, led by Mr. Herman Sekoele, Manager: Engineering Technology from UJ’s TechnoLab, will use Lego WeDo kits, a platform produced by Lego for the development of programmable robots based on Lego building blocks.
Piloting a new way of learning in robotics education, the one year project will enable teachers from twenty different schools in Limpopo and North West Provinces, across foundation and intermediate levels to create robotics clubs in their schools, then participate in a World Robotics Olympiad competition – a first for robotics teaching.
“If we are to use more robots and autonomous systems then we need more people who have the skills to use these technologies. We will help some teachers to be equipped with content knowledge for offering this subject in their school, says Mr Sekoele.
The TechnoLab responds to the UJ Strategic Trusts by promoting and supporting technology, technology transfer and exposing young people to a technological environment, knowledge and skills.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has left SA with an urgent need to kick start its economy and boost productivity. A key to doing this will be increased automation and deploying the next generation of robotics and autonomous systems in the education sector,” added Mr.Sekoele.
Standard Bank South Africa currently funds the project which will look to understand the current skills gap in order to develop appropriate Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) training strategies and provide equipment for schools to customise some of the activity to the local environment.
As part of promoting Community of Learning, UJ TechnoLab created a platform where teachers are able to share their experience with other participating schools. This platform allows for teachers to brainstorm technical challenges they might face. Teachers are also able to share multimedia of the activities they are doing at their respective schools.
With equality and diversity being a key priority for the project, the educational resources are being developed with the aim of helping more of those who are currently under-represented in robotics and coding to see where they can access learning opportunities and make their own contribution.