Unified Robotics Teaches Kids Vital Skills and Teamwork
Writer / Matt Keating
Ryan Adams, the Unified Robotics coach at Akron Elementary School, is excited about the future of the school’s robotics program and how it will enhance each student’s education.
“The Unified Robotics program at school is a team that works together to build a robot,” Adams says. “The team then works together to write code into a program that will make the robot move. The team is composed of students with and without intellectual disabilities.”
Adams, a third- through fifth-grade special-education teacher, says the Unified Robotics program helps participating students with STEM skills.
“The Unified Robotics program teaches students the importance of working together with anyone,” Adams says. “It allows students to showcase what they know and understand that everyone needs to be included.”
Adams has personally seen the program help a lot of his students move forward in a positive direction. It also helps to build their confidence.
“It has allowed kids that struggle in the classroom to shine and show their strengths,” Adams says. “It has helped students form friendships that may not have been formed prior to joining the team.”
Adams is excited about plans for the Unified Robotics program in the 2022-2023 school year.
“The plan is to continue building the team yearly,” Adams says. “We will have a team that competes in the fall. Then in the spring we will bring on new students to replace fifth graders.”
What Adams likes best about the program is seeing the looks on the faces of kids in his classroom when they are working on projects that get them interested in STEM and robotics.
“I enjoy seeing students that may struggle academically succeed,” Adams says.
Adams is especially grateful that the program has brought students and educators together to learn more about the expanding field of robotics.
“I’m glad the state of Indiana started this unified event, and hope other unified opportunities are created for elementary students,” Adams says.
Adams notes that STEM is more important for students than ever.
“STEM is important today because a lot of careers depend on students having the knowledge that is taught with the STEM curriculum,” Adams says. “Students learn how to solve problems, work collaboratively and make adjustments if their solution doesn’t solve a problem.”
Adams adds that learning coding is a vital aspect of STEM education. “The coding aspect of STEM is really important because coding helps students learn how all the technology and automation in the world works,” he says.
Adams would like to see other curriculums incorporated into STEM. “The arts should be included in STEM activities,” he says.
Adams has enjoyed seeing students get enthused about both robotics and STEM.
“A lot of my students get the energy to learn more and that’s always great to see,” he says. “There have been students who struggle to learn in other areas, that have been able to code robots. It’s amazing to see kids who may be having trouble in one area be able to take on leadership roles with robotics.”
Adams thoroughly enjoys teaching robotics. “I like giving the kids a challenge and watching them take on the projects they have to work on,” Adams says.
Adams also believes robotics teaches kids how to work together to solve problems.
“They become a team, and they also enjoy the friendly, competitive nature of what they are doing when they are working on a robotics challenge,” he says. “They earn team points and they take on a team spirit to accomplish their mutual goals. It’s very inspiring.”
Adams says he enjoys teaching something that is a big part of the future.
“With robotics, it becomes a definite team effort,” he says. “I love seeing the looks on the faces of students when they grasp on to something that they initially thought was too difficult for them to learn. I enjoy making an impact on students, and showing them how important it is to work as a team and learn new things.”