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For Immediate Release
Date: January 31, 2024

Public Affairs Officer


DoDEA Embraces Robotics

As a Pathway to Future Workforce Skills

Story by: Michael O'Day
A high school senior at Fort Campbell High School is developing future job skills by constructing a Tetrix prism robot, which will serve as a platform for learning robotics programming using Arduino software.

In an era where technological advancements continually reshape industries, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) is increasingly recognizing the pivotal role of robotics education and competitions as a means of nurturing skills vital for the workforce of tomorrow.

"Robotics offers a comprehensive program fostering teamwork, creativity, critical thinking, time management, community engagement, and self-motivation,” said Greg Spence, a teacher at DoDEA Fort Campbell High School, located on post in Southern Kentucky, near the Tennessee border. “It’s an exhilarating yet rewarding journey that shapes the workforce of tomorrow, one innovative mind at a time," Spence emphasized.

According to experts in the field, robotics education adopts a holistic approach, integrating disciplines into a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) framework. It transcends traditional learning, equipping students with a diverse skill set essential in today's rapidly evolving world. Through robotics, students engage in teamwork, real-world simulations, and problem-solving beyond textbooks.

"Robotics transforms learning from simply 'right or wrong' to exploration,” said David Thomascall, an educational technologist at DoDEA West Point Middle School, located on the grounds of the historic United States Military Academy. “It challenges conventional approaches by providing multiple pathways to success. A robot's task becomes a canvas for creative exploration, encouraging divergent thinking and varied solutions."

Academic robotics enthusiasts like Spence and Thomascall feel that robotics competitions nurture resilience and adaptability, noting that students facing setbacks learn self-assessment, collaboration, and mentorship seeking; thus fostering a growth mindset where failures become actual steppingstones to improvement.

Moreover, they add, robotics education extends beyond classrooms, encouraging community engagement through local, national, and international competitions. Such events are believed to build confidence, expose students to diverse perspectives, and foster innovative ideas.

Greg Bull, Southeast District superintendent, emphasized, "Introducing robotics to our students facilitates practical, real-world experiences in teamwork, problem-solving, and critical thinking. It ensures DoDEA schools not only keep pace but lead, giving our students the advantage in tomorrow’s workforce."

DoDEA sees value in the hands-on nature of robotics merging theoretical knowledge with real-world application; with students learning to design, program, and troubleshoot robots, thus bridging academia with industry demands.

Currently, nine DoDEA Americas schools host robotics non-competition clubs, while six schools field robotics competition teams. Predictions suggest a significant increase, with 17 DoDEA Americas schools anticipated to have both clubs and teams in the upcoming year.

“It's exciting to see students not just learn about how to program robots, but also apply these programming skills to authentic challenges,” said Southeast District Educational Technologist- Instructional Systems Specialist Jennifer Hall. "In addition to our robotics clubs and competition teams, it’s important to infuse robotics into classrooms to support differentiation and ensure all students get the chance to experience robotics. Robotics is critical in preparing students for future challenges in our technology-driven world."

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