Running LEGO Mindstorms robotics classes is an amazingly rewarding experience. Robotics is arguably the bazooka of the STEM world bringing together science (particularly with sensors), technology (by coding), engineering
(when designing and constructing), and math (initially when working with thresholds, logic, and later with mathematical functions). It is a bazooka with add-ons- an exciting
way to encourage teamwork, creativity, critical thinking and more!
It’s amazing to see children’s faces light up when the robot they built talks, moves and actually obeys their program. Then their imaginations come to life as they ask whether they can program their robot to do other things, perhaps tell their older brother to go away when he comes into their room! Excited. Engaged. Inspired – albeit cheeky.
Children aspire to be what they know about and enjoy. Spending leisure time playing football, dancing, pretending to be a fireman encourages them to see a future within these activities. Building and programming robots to do cool stuff with friends has great potential to tilt the scales towards STEM, not that there’s anything wrong with sports, music or firemen – definitely not firemen. Both my children play musical in
struments and sports. The point is children cannot aspire to be what they don’t know. There’s arguably no better way to know than by enjoyable hands-on experience. This is what Wacky Bots delivers.
Most great inventors were inspired when very young. Scientists say that a child’s core character is almost fully formed by the time one is seven years old. So how do we get children inspired into STEM during their formative years?
KIBO robotics is an ideal tool for children aged four to seven and can inspire children towards a future in STEM when it matters the most. Here are the top five things I love about it.
- No computers – children get time away from the screen and engage with one another, building blocks during sessions and working in teams
- Tangible – KIBO literally teaches the building blocks of programming. Picking up and ordering blocks that make a robot perform actions delivers a very strong memorable learning experience.
- Coding content: KIBO permits complex coding such as conditional statements that are fundamental for any programming language. It is easy to envisage children moving on very easily from KIBO to Scratch, LEGO Mindstorms, Python and beyond
- Sensors: KIBO includes sound, light, and proximity sensors. Coupled with the coding flexibility
- STEAM: Perhaps most important for schools, there are endless opportunities to dress KIBO up in line with your class theme. Is your topic Egypt? Perhaps dress KIBO up as a Sphinx. Excitement and giggles probably guaranteed.
We must always remember that inspiration needs to be fed to st
ay alive. There are endless opportunities to engage inSTEM at all stages. If your child starts of with KIBO and loves it, perhaps it’s time to move on to Scratch, then LEGO Mindstorms, Python, Arduino and beyond. Who knows – you may have a future inventor at your backseat.
After-school classes starting in August 2016! A pioneer in Scotland.