La Robotica A new educational fun for children
When we think of toys and technology, options such as tablets, video games and other similar products come to mind. But when it comes to giving our little ones an educational product, everything that has to do with robotics makes a difference.
Robotics is one of the great technological disciplines that have helped improve our daily lives. We are not talking about humanoid robots from the movies, but about those that are mainly applied to the world of industry and technology. These advanced systems are capable of welding vehicles, assembling computers or mobile phones and also of performing all kinds of tasks with greater precision than that of the human being. Behind these robots there is a considerable load of technology and effort, in order to achieve the best results.
However, robotics can also be an excellent tool for the little ones to learn while having fun. Obviously, we are not going to make our children develop robots capable of working in an industrial environment, but it is true that we find different proposals on the market with which they can learn the fundamentals of robotics and what they can do with them.
The benefits of robotics for children
For those who are still not sure if this technology is suitable for the little ones, we are going to start by analyzing the benefits of robotics for these users. These toys receive the specific name of STEM, which corresponds to the acronym for science (Science), technology, engineering (engineering) and mathematics. These acronyms show us the areas whose knowledge these toys promote, which makes it very clear the benefit that robotics applies to children’s learning.
These are the specific improvements that benefit from the use of robotics as a game, although it obviously also brings other interesting elements. Among them, we have the ability to solve problems and encourage lateral thinking, so it is possible to find alternative solutions to the most logical way of solving problems. It is also a discipline that helps improve deductive skills and logical reasoning, without forgetting the logical aspects that drive programming, among other aspects.
Obviously, for these benefits to be real and for robotic products not to become just another educational element, it is key that these toys are fun, accessible at the level of the recipient and that when playing the child has the necessary support to solve possible problems that arise during the process. If not, then the project and the will of our future developer will not go very far.
where to start
When it comes to starting to work with these robotic toys, it is necessary to carry out a preliminary evaluation, with which we can know the level of technological knowledge of the user and, consequently, which tools and kits are most suitable for their specific needs. A task in which the recommended ages of the different kits can be a good reference.
When carrying out this evaluation, it is also interesting to assess the child’s profile regarding the different elements present in robotics. Let us think that a project of this type has three large different areas: creativity, construction and programming. These three elements are essential for the project to come to a successful conclusion, although it is also true that some children may prefer a specific profile over the other two.
Starting with creativity, this is necessary to evaluate how a given problem is solved or what we want the robot to do. The construction function is the one in charge of designing the robot for this purpose, with the necessary elements to fulfill its mission. Finally, the programming function is responsible for providing the project with the orders to complete the necessary task. In this step, we have the tools and the solution to the “problem” but we still need to tell the robot how to proceed to execute it.
Depending on the kits or toys chosen, it is possible that some profiles are more important than others or that some are not even included, such as robots with a closed design or in which we simply have to program what we want it to do among the available functions. This also helps to customize the available functions to those that are most suitable to the user or those in which they show the most interest.
What options does the market offer?
When we take a look at the proposals that the market offers for our little ones to immerse themselves in the world of robotics, it is surprising to find proposals from both toy companies and technology companies. An interesting binomial in order to have all kinds of proposals, to make it easier to choose the right one.
Within the proposals of the toy companies, the kits of the Lego Technic line stand out, as well as the programmable models of Lego MindStorms. Starting with Lego Technics, we are talking about products designed to build diverse objects with an approach that does not go from the top down, but from the inside out. Just take a look at any Lego Technic comparison (you can find some purchase options at this link) to discover the different products available. Regarding the Mindstorms line, this bet directly on the most complete robotics and includes advanced elements, such as sensors, motors and programmable units, making it a more suitable option for older children, generally from 10 years old..
Another interesting option, focused mainly on the field of programming, is Printbot or Zowi. These robots have a good range of functions dedicated to both movement and automatically activating in certain light conditions. The product has dedicated sensors, so our little engineer just has to set the robot’s behavior to what he wants. The advantage of this product is that BQ, its manufacturer, offers a website dedicated to these robots where we find all kinds of accessories and projects designed to get even more out of it.
The last technology that we are going to comment on is that of Arduino. In this case, we are not talking about toys, but about a real technological solution. However, it is so easy to use that it can even be suitable for the little ones. Something that is helped by the large amount of existing material with which it is possible to carry out simple developments, adaptable to all types of ages and technical knowledge, including interesting starter kits for newcomers to this world. An interesting advantage for older children or higher level.