Robots and Kids

by Amelia
(FL)

Do you have any resources or information for teaching children (elementary age) about robots? Any good links? Ways to present basic information?




Sebastien's answer

Hello Amelia,
and thank you for your question.

There are two ways to answer this: how to get robots for your own kids? and how to teach robotics if you are a teacher?

1) How to get robots for your kids?

If you want to get your kid learn about robots at home, you may have lots of questions like: what is the right age to start? What type of robots should I get him? If you don't know yourself how to program robots, how can you help him?

In my experience (as a kid), I loved construction kits like Lego and Meccano. Later, I "helped" my dad building some RC models, and I always thought: what if I could add some sensors or link it to a computer?

So I guess if you can get your kids interested in building things, it would be a good start. You may first want to teach them to do things with their hands, and how cool it is. Lego and derivatives are a good pick in my opinion.

With Lego, I found some very cool robots for kids from 4 to adults. They designed the learning steps adding more and more electronics. You can find it here: Robots and kids at Lego.

Actually, it is designed for educators, but it can give a good choice of robot kits for elementary school children. Also, there is extensive documentations and specialized websites about Lego Mindstorms to help you if you get stuck.


In Middle School, your childrn can either use these robots to learn computer programming, or learn to solder their own electronics circuits.

2) How to teach robotics to a classroom of children?

Here, I can't say I am an expert teacher. But I found out that more and more schools around the World are organizing workshops about building robots. It teaches mechanical skills, mathematics, informatics and team work all together.

Still, most of the material I found for teaching robots to kids was for Middle School students. It may be a little early to give them courses about electronics that only a few advanced kids will understand. So why not building putt-putt boats instead? Here is a great website by a teacher to build science toys: Click here to get the plans of a putt-putt boat.

Important: don't forget to check the comment from Kathy below, she has experience in teaching robotics to 4th grader.

I really feel like robotics uses knowledge from very different fields at the same time. So learning a little electronics, a little about toy making and so on would be a good first step to building robots in middle school.

I hope it answers the question. Do not hesitate to ask more in the comments. If some teacher has experience on teaching robotics, do not hesitate to give more advice.

I hope your kids will enjoy making robots!

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Dec 01, 2011
What about Fischer Teknik?
by: Kathy

Hi Sebastien,

Lego Mindstorms is great, I will be trying it out soon.

Can you also talk about Fischer Technik? I used the Robo TX Training Lab with a group of 4th graders recently and found it is really good. Here is a link to a news story on me and the kids.

I'd like people to be aware there is an alternative to Lego.

Kathy
President, Paradise Robotics

Dec 01, 2011
Great work!
by: Sebastien

Hello Kathy,

Thank you very much for the comment. I see in your interview you had a real experience with the kids, and they made some awesome work during their vacations. I love how clever they look when they talk about what they are doing.

I looked at the Robo TX Training Lab: it is clearly meant to be used by teachers, with educational manuals and several educational models to assemble in groups.

I found the best prices on Amazon (100$ cheaper):
Fischertechnik Robo TX Training Lab

I'll also edit the main answer to mention it.

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