In our ever-changing technological world, the Coding and Robotics curriculum is vital in exposing our learners to new technologies within the schooling environment and building a foundation of knowledge. The Coding and Robotics curriculum, released by the Department of Basic Education, aims to guide and prepare learners to solve problems, think critically, work collaboratively and creatively, and function in a digital information-driven world.
South Africa has been placing a growing emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education in recent years. This is partly due to the recognition of the importance of these fields for economic growth and innovation. However, teaching coding and robotics in South Africa is a dynamic field with its own unique set of challenges and opportunities.
The country has a significant digital divide, with many learners lacking access to basic technology and schools having limited access to modern technology, reliable internet and up-to-date educational resources. This can hinder the effective teaching of coding and robotics. Furthermore, there is a growing awareness of the importance of inclusivity in coding and robotics education.
Carmen Meyer, STEM Content Development Lead at Maskew Miller Learning, believes that efforts have been made to bridge the digital divide through various initiatives, such as coding bootcamps, workshops, innovation hubs and robotic competitions, which aim to provide learners with access to digital resources and encourage underrepresented groups, including women and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, to participate.
Supporting the implementation of a Coding and Robotics curriculum requires a collaborative effort between publishers, educators, and other stakeholders. Meyer explains that “developing well-structured, age-appropriate curriculum materials that align with educational standards and objectives is imperative.”
In support of the Draft Coding and Robotics curriculum for the Foundation Phase (Grades R–3), Maskew Miller Learning has developed content that aligns with the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS).
“Our new Smart-Kids Coding and Robotics workbooks consist of write-in worksheets. The workbook is a supplementary resource that teachers can use to introduce the subject to young learners and for parents who want their child to learn and practice the skills required for coding and robotics,” says Meyer.
The workbooks not only cover the digital skills and knowledge content areas as prescribed by the draft curriculum, but learners have fun while completing the activities with Robo, an endearing humanoid robot and a new friend to the Smart-Kids characters.
“Robo is one of our proudly South African additions to the well-loved Smart-Kids series. Her silver exterior, pink bow, cute costumes and glowing circuits show young learners that both boys and girls can be tech-savvy superstars,” adds Meyer.
Robo opens an exciting and imaginative world to young learners, taking them on a journey into the coding and robotics space. With her guidance and participation in activities, Robo teaches young boys and girls logical thinking, decomposition skills, internet safety, and how to code using coding blocks. Most importantly, she ignites confidence and models collaboration in problem-solving, empowering learners to tackle any challenge and unleashing their boundless creativity.
“In a field traditionally dominated by males and most often marketed to little boys, Robo promotes gender equality and inclusivity in the robotics workforce. Robo’s impactful presence in the series encourages learners that robotics is indeed for everyone, paving the way for greater female representation in STEM careers and leadership positions,” Meyer said.
Teaching coding and robotics in South Africa is a field that is rapidly evolving, driven by a growing recognition of the importance of tech education for the country’s future. Despite challenges, there is a strong determination to equip South African learners with the skills they need to thrive in the digital age.
Picture courtesy Pexel: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-view-of-system-hacking-in-a-monitor-5380664/
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