Kids nowadays are more interested than ever in robotics, thanks partly to the popularity of robots in traditional and digital media. The maker movement, which encourages its members to embrace DIY projects involving electronics, robotics, and videos, among others, is also instrumental in the popularity of robot programming.
Since electronics and robotics are among its hallmarks, it’s no wonder that kids are also starting to code and program, two things that were previously thought to be the realm of adults. Kids learn coding and programming from various platforms including STEM programs in public schools and from robotic kits, which range from the simple designs like the Dash Robot to the complicated styles like the Lego EV3.
Parents and teachers then have the responsibility to ensure that kids learn coding and programming in ways that maximize the benefits of learning about them. Building a solid foundation is a must so that children apply the principles and practices they learned during their basic lessons in their more complex projects. Here’s what you can do in this regard, whether you are a parent or a teacher.
Robot Programming that Kids Understand
Programming and coding aren’t just for adults, although there’s a misconception that it’s only for the elite intelligent few. Even children as young as eight years old will understand the basic concepts.
Basically, coding is providing a computer with a set of instructions so that specific actions and decisions can be made. Robot kits allow children to create codes and programs using the software included in the kits. Of course, parents and teachers must learn basic coding and programming themselves so that they can explain the concepts to the kids!
Both the adults and children can make use the many available resources that explain these subjects. These resources can easily be found at:
- Community colleges that offer short courses on basic electronics and robotics;
- Libraries with books geared toward interested individuals of all ages, as well as workshops and courses for kids;
- School clubs with like-minded individuals who can become mentors to the younger kids; and
- Makerspace and Hacklab workshops in your community.
Think of it as a shared journey that you and your kids can enjoy and learn from!
Provide Hands-on Learning Experience
All principles and no practice make robotics a dull subject! You must then introduce actual coding and programming activities to your child’s robotics exposure for this reason. You will find plenty of choices on the market that will fall within your budget and satisfy your child’s needs in a robotics kit.
We suggest looking at the product label for more information about the suitability of robot kits depending on age and skill levels. Your child, for example, may be only eight years old but he has a precocious nature will make him more appreciative of a robotic kit designed for teens, such as the Lego Mindstorms EV3.
The most important thing is to provide your child with hands-on learning experience while keeping the following tips in mind:
- Guide your child during the parts assembly and software installation process;
- Let your child learn from his mistakes instead of scolding him for it, thus, keeping his motivation up;
- Encourage your child to experiment with the robot’s capabilities but be sure to remind him about safety, such as in using electrical tools; and
- Provide learning resources and let him explore on his own these resources, such as YouTube videos.
Most important, talk to him about his progress in coding and programming. You may not understand the more advanced concepts but becoming a sounding board for your kids is always a good idea.
Use Traditional Games
Robots are great but so are traditional games that teach kids about robots in the two-dimensional sense. These games, such as Robot Turtles, teach kids about giving robots – in this case, the robots are shaped like turtles – instructions, a process similar to coding. The board game has its unique appeal because it teaches kids about logical reasoning and abstract concepts given concrete form.
Since most, if not all, DIY robots require assembly, your kids should also be encouraged to play with building blocks. The Lego sets are a great platform for this purpose since the building blocks can be configured in a wide range of shapes from animals to spaceships. The more your children learn about manipulating the blocks, the more they can make robots using the kits’ parts.
Plus, there’s also the fact that among the most popular robotic kits come from Lego – the Lego Mindstorms EV3.
Kids who are learning coding and programming for their robots will find that it’s an adventure in itself. Parents and teachers should provide the guidance but let them discover the risks and rewards that come with these activities, including making mistakes and learning from them.
In time, your kids will acquire more knowledge and skills in robotics that they may even join competitions – and win!