In an online edition of Scientific American, Michael Wysession, an earth and planetary scientist at Washington University in St. Louis, wrote, “Though we live in a thoroughly modern scientific world, our science education structure is now 120 years old.”
That sounds like a criticism, but it’s really just a statement of fact.
Mr. Wysession breaks the last 120 years of science education into four separate eras or milestones.
1860s-1870s — Teaching With Toys
American science education during this period reflected the ‘project-based learning’ system then current in Europe.
Froebel Blocks or Froebel Gifts as they were called then consisted of a number of blocks and other common everyday things that a child could learn with; a system developed by Friedrich Froebel, the educational giant whose legacy is Kindergarten.
According to the Wiki entry on Froebel:
“He envisaged that the Gifts will teach the child to use his (or her) environment as an educational aid; secondly, that they will give the child an indication of the connection between human life and life in nature; and finally that they will create a bond between the adult and the child who play with them."
According to legend, Frank Lloyd Wright grew up with Froebel Blocks.
1893 — Classes for Changing Times
The National Education Association recommends the expansion of science education in the elementary and secondary schools.
This is considered the formal beginning of science and math education on the elementary and secondary levels.
1940s — Science on the Home Front
Science, math, physics, they all got a big boost from WW II.
Does the Manhattan Project ring a bell with anyone?
1957 — The Sputnik Challenge
Anyone who grew up during the Cold War is familiar with the panic that occurred when the United States realized it wasn’t the only nation with science goals.
Suddenly the government poured money into science education.
This fifth milestone wasn’t mentioned by article author Michael Wysession, but here at RobotsLAB we believe it has arrived and we believe that educational giant Friedrich Froebel would agree.
Just as his Froebel Gifts allowed the student to use his environment as an educational aid, the four robots in our RobotsLAB Box, Sphero, Mobot, Ar Drone and Armbot, help students understand and appreciate the real-world wizardry of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.