R.E.A.L. Robotics for Kids Program
To further its Mission NIIT supports relevant educational and community programs such as R.E.A.L. Robotics for Kids.
See real 4th grade students in R.E.A.L. action and hear from their teacher.
R.E.A.L., which stands for Robotics for Experiential and Applied Learning, is an elementary school education program intended to reach all 4th graders. R.E.A.L. uses specially designed robotics kits and supporting instructional material to bring project based, team learning to life through robotics. Designed to reach underserved children by integrating and aligning with existing 4th grade STEM curriculum, the program was borne from the realization that students who are exposed to STEM-based applied learning early in their education are more apt to continue along the education and STEM career pathway. R.E.A.L. introduces students to cutting-edge technology at a young age – ignites their passions for STEM education, inspires them to reach beyond barriers, and foster a healthy spirit of creativity and innovation.
R.E.A.L. enhances several important areas within the education system today:
Project-based, experiential learning (extracurricular and/or in class)
Integrated encouragement, coaching, and mentoring from parents, teachers, student peers and adult professionals in STEM-related careers.
Affordable and scalable resources that support diverse opportunities in STEM related technology, projects and experience.
The History of R.E.A.L.
Development began for R.E.A.L. in 2014 with educators, industry and a collaboration with Dean Kamen of FIRST Robotics. The R.E.A.L. program’s pilot-studies were successfully completed in 2017 across divergent geographic/demographic fourth-grade elementary school students. It was noted at the time that while a minority of students had access to and various elective programs that included experiential robotics learning and extra-curricular activities such as competitions, many children were not afforded the same opportunity to participate. R.E.A.L. was designed to fill this gap and augment other in-school STEM activities as well as other robotics programs such as FIRST Robotics, ultimately reaching children of all means by integrating and aligning with existing fourth-grade curriculum.
How R.E.A.L. Robotics for Kids Works
A classroom receives a kit which contains the parts for five robots that work off an app compatible with Chromebooks. A link to an online instructional guide called “The R.E.A.L. Program Playbook” which was designed by students, teachers and kit engineers is also provided. The Playbook provides information and links to everything required, including building and operating the robot, coding and how to develop the “mission.” Students break out into teams assigned to various tasks and rotate assignments so all students participate in various experiences. Once the robot is complete, the course is laid out and the coding is done, the teams work together to achieve the mission.
Promoting a Continuum of S.T.E.M.
- R.E.A.L.'s Alignment
R.E.A.L. aligns well with existing STEM programs and provides an initiation into the more formal continuum of STEM education. By engaging older students in the deployment of R.E.A.L. as mentors and as program ambassadors, this continuum is cemented within the process. The grade-to-grade mentorship also creates excitement in the school and anticipation for further involvement – and helps to provide teachers with needed support and additional STEM project-based (teacher) development.
The 4th Grade R.E.A.L. program, when combined with middle school activities and support, provide a continuum of learning that is important in creating a lifelong STEM education pathway. In one R.E.A.L. pilot program, 3rd graders were invited to watch the 4th graders; they expressed how they looked forward to “being 4th graders” so they could be on the “R.E.A.L. team.”
The Design Criteria Behind the R.E.A.L. Program
R.E.A.L. exposes youngsters to STEM through project-based learning; teamwork, problem solving, coding, concepts in mechanical engineering, manufacturing, etc., and includes an engagement model for engineers and older students who participate in robotics programs to serve as mentors. Schools can also leverage R.E.A.L. as a pathway to exposure in later grades to other robotics programs such as FIRST Robotics.
R.E.A.L. was developed to meet the following design criteria:
Target students early, at an age when they can focus, learn and retain STEM based curriculum
Ignite STEM education and stimulate creative thinking
Provide experiential, project-based learning in a team environment and the hands-on experience required to succeed in STEM careers
Ensure it is cost effective, fits into existing curriculum and supports existing course requirements
Provide access to all students, regardless of background, ability or financial constraints
Provide a path to continued project-based learning opportunities through robotics
Link students throughout the education continuum by providing experiential learning opportunities for older students through “train the trainer” models and mentor programs
Leverage the program as vehicle to enhance teacher STEM skills
Provide a mechanism for companies and other organizations to help build the talent pipeline and project a positive brand image through sponsorship opportunities
Ensure the program model can be scaled and sustained
Why is Access to All 4th Graders Important?
With the growth in technology, workers with strong STEM backgrounds and proficiencies in related skills will be in high demand. In addition to preparing students for future careers, the STEM talent pool is, and will continue to be, necessary to maintain the leadership in innovation required to ensure national security and global competitiveness. While it is known that engaging and exciting students needs to happen early on, investments by the private sector tend to be later in the education system and more so within the realm of workforce training. R.E.A.L helps to fill this gap by being offered early-on in the existing education system. Click below to hear more about R.E.A.L robotics teacher testimonial.
The R.E.A.L. Student Ambassador Program
As part of the engagement model, grow the R.E.A.L. program and to support the development of the STEM continuum, it is recommended that participating schools/school districts develop a “R.E.A.L. Ambassador Program” by selecting a teacher and student to act as ambassadors who will work as a team to promote the program. The Ambassadors can coordinate activities, solicit mentors, develop intramural competitions and activities, help develop various teacher development and support programs, etc. The Ambassadors also draft and engage younger students to serve as future Ambassadors as students graduate.
Sponsorship & Support
R.E.A.L. is intended to be made available to all 4th graders and program sponsorships by private and public organizations are welcome. Anyone interested in sponsoring a class, school, school district program, Pleased contact R.E.A.L. to facilitate the process.
Pricing & Ordering
Participating in R.E.A.L. is easy and cost effective. Each participating classroom requires one R.E.A.L. kit which includes everything you need: parts for 5 robots, instructional material and online support.
Parts are packaged with the learning experience geared to 4th graders in mind. The robots are extremely durable, operate from an online app and are designed for in-class programs as well as intramural competitions.
R.E.A.L. kit pricing is based on quantity, so it is more cost effective for school districts to pool their orders. Kits contain 5 units and are suited for class sizes of up to 30 students.
4/1/20 pricing is as follows:
$605/unit-$3,025/kit (between 1 – 25 units) (4 – 6-week lead time)
$515/unit-$2,575/kit (between 25 – 100 units) (4 – 6-week lead time)
$455/unit-$2,275/kit (between 100 – 250 units) (6 – 8-week lead time)
Over 250 units/50 kits require special quote and timing estimate
With the growth in technology, workers with strong STEM backgrounds and proficiencies in related skills will be in high demand. In addition to preparing students for future careers, the STEM talent pool is, and will continue to be, necessary to maintain the leadership in innovation required to ensure national security and global competitiveness. While it is known that engaging and exciting students needs to happen early on, investments by the private sector tend to be later in the education system and more so within the realm of workforce training. R.E.A.L helps to fill this gap by being offered early-on in the existing education system.