Robotics is a fun and exciting way to introduce your kids to some of the essential STEM topics, including technology and engineering. Kids enjoy robotics because it has a hands-on component in addition to computer work. For many kids, this is the best way to introduce them to coding concepts.
Robotics can also help with problem-solving and critical thinking skills. If you’d like to try robotics at home with your kids but aren’t sure where to get started, read on for some great tips.
Start with an Explanation of Robotics
When your child hears the word “robot,” he or she may envision something like Wall-E or R2-D2. Before working with robotics, you may want to begin with an explanation of what a robot is and what it does. Ensure your child understands that robots are a technology that can work automatically and can often replace a human job.
You may want to show your kids several videos of different types of robots so that they can get a better idea of a definition. You can show your child that most of the robots we use today are made to do jobs that are too dangerous, difficult or tedious for humans.
Think About Where Your Kids Are
The type of robot you build and the programming you use will depend a lot on your kids’ ages and ability levels with technology. While you may want to jump in and create something highly sophisticated, most kids will need to start with a robot that will teach them the basics of programming. You can always move up from there.
Many kids are highly interested in building a robot, while others are not. You may have to adapt your project to your kids’ interests. For example, if your kids are into art, you can always incorporate some fun designs into your robot.
Types of Robots to Build at Home
There are three basic types of robots you may choose to build:
- pre-programmed robots
- autonomous robots
- teleoperated robots
Pre-programmed robots are programmed to perform a simple task over and over. A good example would be the robotic arms you see in a car factory.
Autonomous robots are programmed to follow a set of tasks. These robots may use sensors to help them make judgments like a Roomba vacuum uses sensors to keep it from running into furniture.
Teleoperated robots are controlled by some sort of remote device. You may have an app on your computer or phone that you use to control it. A good example of a teleoperated robot would be an underwater robot used for exploring sunken ships.
Choose a Robot / Program
There are so many options when it comes to choosing a robot to build. You can make many types of robots using items you have around your home and will only have to purchase a few things, such as motors.
You can also purchase different robot kits. These kits are suited to different kits and ability levels, so you can find one that is perfect for you and your kids. Keep in mind that it’s best to start with the basics before moving into more advanced robotics.
For younger kids, there are several types of robots that are programmed to follow a heavy black line drawn on paper. This gets kids to start thinking like a programmer without actually having to do any programming. Other robots for young kids involve creating obstacle courses for a robot to navigate.
Middle kids can get a lot from robots like LEGO Boost, the Makeblock mBot or the Wonder Workshop Dash. These robots are designed to start with basics for kids in the early elementary grades and build on these skills as your child grows.
Older kids will love more sophisticated kits like LEGO Mindstorms. This robot is suitable for kids who know a little about programming and want to move into more advanced endeavors.
It’s never too early to get your kids interested in robots. Even if your children do not grow up to become robotics engineers, the lessons they learn through programming are easily transferrable to other tech careers and even careers outside the tech field. Most importantly, building a robot is a way for you and your kids to spend time together as a family doing something productive.