Should you be teaching robotics in junior school? (video at the bottom)
More and more governments around the world are calling for the implementation of robotics into the school curriculum, from as early as 6 years old.
The word robotics has been thrown around a lot in education circles recently, but what is robotics, why should we be teaching it, and why is it important?
We’ve been obsessing over these questions and this course is our first step towards an answer.
Robots = Humans ?
When thinking of a robot one’s mind is tempted to jumps towards Sonny, the mechanical humanoid from iRobot!
Robotics has certainly turned into a bit of a buzz word.
And our solution to teach this buzz (but important) word often results in expensive equipment being driven around the school classroom.
Now that is awesome, what learner wouldn’t want to program a car to race around a track, or program a drone to do certain maneuvers?
But what are they really learning?
Are we teaching learners logic, problem-solving, or to become Electric Engineers? Surely, we can’t be training everyone to be engineers, especially at such a young age?
What is a Robot?
So what about robotics is important and why should your daughter, son or junior school be having anything to do with them?
A robot is, at is core, a combination of these three things:
- a Sensor, something that interprets the world around it, (i.e. camera, smoke sensor)
- an Actuator, something that moves the world around it, (i.e. motors, water pump)
- and importantly, a Processor, the logic that communicates between a sensor and actuator.
I.e. self-driving car (robot) sees a red light with a camera (sensor), and processes that logic (processor) to the mechanical breaks (actuator) to stop the car.
I.e. a smoke sensor (sensor) detects smoke and communicates (processor) with a water pump (actuator) to turn the sprinklers on and put out the fire.
That’s really all a robot is, a way of programming something to do the job of a human, but digitally, by interpreting and interacting with the world around them.
So what are we trying to learn?
The programming of a robot teaches us how to solve big problems by breaking them down into smaller, logical steps and then how to build solutions that address the root cause of the problem, not surface-level effect.
At Code4Kids we’re trying to do more than that.
Starting at 8 years old, we help teachers use robotics to teach some fundamental, curriculum-aligned content such as cardinal points (N, SW, etc), coordinate geometry (x, y), degrees, triangles, area, and perimeter, all the while they’re learning to debug their robots, solve problems and come up with creative solutions.
It also goes without saying, that as we dig into the details of sensors, actuators and process there are important mechanical and electrical aspects to robotics. Learning basics mechanics and electronics is also critically important, and getting the chance to do that with devices is a bonus, but we’ll have our web-based version soon.
This content was provided by Matthew Henshall, Co-Founder and CEO at Code4Kids. Visit their page on SchoolAdvisor to check out their top-rated reviews and get in touch.