It looks like we’ll be returning to school in a hybrid model, with about 50% of the class present at any time. I teach two sections of Intro to Engineering, mostly grades 9 and 10, but occasionally some grade 11. It’s about 64 students total, so I suppose it would be about 16 at any given time. For the past decade, I’ve taught this class heavily with Vex EDR (older PIC controllers) and it has gone very well. We have about 16 very complete kits and many extra parts, to where we have about 8 motors per kit now. We typically have 4 students per kit.
With COVID-19, it looks like we’re making an effort to not share items, and to provide individual materials for each student. We don’t have enough VEX EDR to do this, and getting more seems way out of the price range, so I’ve begun to look at other options. I’d like to keep the class engaging with physical hands on project-based work that involves more than just sitting at a computer all day. There are so many different kits out there though. So I wanted to ask, what are teachers using these days? I’m not tied strictly to robotics, but robotics does seem to be pretty engaging.
Whatever I select, I would want it to be well supported with curriculum, relevant to students pursuing studies in various fields of engineering, and engaging for a full semester class. Ideally, it would be usable well beyond the upcoming school year.
Ideally, I’d like students to easily be able to take the product home and work with it at home as well. If it works with a Chromebook, all the better, but that’s not mandatory. Way back in the day, I got my start with a Parallax BOE-Bot. It looks like they have something similar nowadays for Arduino, and I know the Parallax stuff has good texts to go with. There’s also the Sparkfun Redbot, but I have no experience with that. I’m not sure if I want students breadboarding, due to fragility of components and possibility of damage, but I do like giving students the ability to build and customize things. The mechanical aspect of VEX EDR was a real plus in that area.
As for budget, I would say $500 ea is out of the range, but lesser amounts may be an option depending on the quality and utility of the product. So with that, what products should I be looking into?