School News

Innovation through Robotics at OSC

Friday, 26th of April 2019

The Overseas School of Colombo, a pioneer in international school education in Sri Lanka with a proud history of 61 years, always takes the lead in cultivating creativity among the students in a multi-cultural environment. The International Baccalaureate programme challenges students to excel in their studies to achieve their personal best. The Design curriculum in Middle Years Programme (MYP) sets a very good example for this. The MYP Design enables students to develop not only practical skills but also strategies for creative and critical thinking. OSC offers a wide variety of Design units which aligns with global standards and modern technological trends.

3D printing and robotics are two fine examples for this. In a curriculum which is vertically and horizontally integrated, students are given the opportunity to build and programme robots using various tools from grade 1 onwards. Recently students of grade 10 were involved in a thought-provoking unit of developing robotic games using Lego Mindstorms EV3 tool kit following the design cycle approach. They started the unit with research to gain deep insights about the latest technologies and applications of robotics using a wide variety of primary and secondary sources. Next students were paired based on their current level of understanding, capabilities and interests. Each group came up with two design ideas and rated each other’s designs to select the best solution.

Finally, they built the robots using Lego pieces, sensors and motors available with the Lego Mindstorms tool kit. Learning block-based programming using the software “LabVIEW” was a major mile stone in this learning process. In a student-centred learning environment, the teacher played the role of a facilitator while students tirelessly conducted many experiments and trials to accomplish the set goals. On the 24th of May, students shared their learning outcomes with the school community in a robotics show based in the school’s library and digital media centre. There were fascinating robots presented by the students which include maze solvers, loom band maker, fighting robots, Rubics cube solver, bowling alley, musical instruments and much more.

Not only did the faculty, staff and students of secondary school enthusiastically participate in the robotics show, but also this gave a new and exciting experience to some students of Vi dya Wardhana Vidyalaya, Battaramulla, who were invited. In conclusion, it was evident that robotics is a tool that can help make abstract ideas more concrete, as children can directly view the impact of their programming commands on the robots’ actions. New technologies in general, and robotics more significantly, make different kinds of learning opportunities possible, including new ways to foster peer social interactions, and nurture many opportunities for creativity, social, and cognitive development.

Educational robotic kits are a new generation of learning manipulatives that also help children develop logical thinking capabilities. “LabVIEW” the block-based programming tool used to programme the robots is a freely available, standardized, independent, deployable and testable tool which is compat i ble with Le g o Mindstorms EV3 tool kit which suits the standards of learners aged 10 - 21 years. The robotics show is a clear example of OSC’s focus on design-thinking culture that focuses on developing students’ creative confidence, aligned with OSC’s mission of being the model of excellence in education, nurturing and empowering our community of learners to achieve global success.

OSC is regarded the most prestigious international school in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Founded in 1957, OSC remains Sri Lanka’s oldest internationally accredited educational institution. It is the only school in Sri Lanka to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme from Pre-school to Grade 12. At OSC parents and teachers partner in working together to create the kind of environment where children not only learn, but thrive. OSC develops the whole person as a responsible learner striving for personal excellence within a culturally diverse school. Rangika Kuruppu The writer is a member of the faculty of the Overseas School of Colombo.

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