It’s official, robotics is cool.
Entrepreneurs like Elon Musk have brought advanced technologies like robotics to the forefront of media, sparking a wave of kids and adults who want to grow their knowledge in the space and help innovate the next generation of robotics.
If you believe that your kid might be interested in getting into robotics, we have put together this guide with tips on how to engage, educate and facilitate them to do this.
1. Take baby steps
The most important thing to remember when trying to get any child into anything is to take baby steps. Being heavy-handed and trying to force them into something like robotics is likely to be met with resistance, even if they may enjoy it.
Don’t overwhelm them by trying to get them to pe too deep into robotics from the get-go. Start by introducing them to the concept, test out their interest and whether they see themselves spending their time exploring robotics.
This could mean before you start investing in kits and courses, you just introduce them to media or have them play with an app or game.
Introducing kids to media covering robotics is a great way to get them excited about the possibilities. How you do this will depend on your circumstances.
Many adults who are passionate about robotics get into it because of TV programmes like Robot Wars. Although this series is no longer running, you could watch reruns with your kids or find other similar programmes which could spark their curiosity.
YouTube can also be a great resource for getting kids excited about the area. For example, National Geographic Kids has a YouTube playlist dedicated to robotics.
3. Apps and games
A large part of robotics is programming. Introducing your kids to apps or games can be a good way to make learning about the digital aspects of robotics fun and interesting. It can also be a good way to gauge their interest and skill before investing in more expensive materials such as online courses or kits.
There are many free and paid apps that will help kids develop the type of thinking they need to successfully get into robotics.
4. Find a course
Once you have introduced your kid to the subject through media and apps you will be able to build an idea as to whether this is something they would like to pursue. There are many areas of robotics, so during the discovery phase, you may find that are particularly interested in one aspect or area.
At this point, enrolling them on a course can be a great way to develop their knowledge and passion. Although some organisation around the UK do run robotics course for kids, you may find that these are few and far between. Luckily, there are also plenty of online options for kids who want to explore this area.
When picking a course, make sure it is the right fit for the child. For example, different courses are pitched at different levels of experience, knowledge and abilities. If you find a course that is too easy or too challenging, the child may struggle to fully engage.
There are lots of toys on the market that can help your child get to grips with robotics in a fun way. For example, Lego’s Boost and Mindstorm are great ways for kids to experience robotics in a familiar format.
Lego Boost is aimed at a younger audience, so it is ideal for kids aged 7-12, offering them a way to play and learn about sensors and motors. Lego Mindstorm is aimed at kids aged 10+ and offers them a more advanced set of tools that can be used to create robots that can walk, talk and even figure out challenges.
6. Challenge them
Many kids love a challenge, especially when there is a reward at the end. So, it is reasonable to assume that setting your kids a robotic focused challenge is a great way to get them engaged.
Some organisations run set robotics challenges for kids. These can be a great way to bring out your child’s competitive nature, having them try and beat the others taking part in the challenge. Organised challenges can also be a good option as they provide you with the guidelines and information you need.
Teaching kids about robotics
Teaching your kids about robotics can be fun and rewarding. You may spark a passion that leads to a lifelong career or you may simply awake their curiosity and open their eyes to the world of computers, electronics and engineering. Either way, the outcome will be positive.