Learning the language of machines is going to be an essential skill for children moving into the future world of work. As machines take over more and more tasks in the work place, it will be those who know how to programme or code them – to teach them how to do things for us, who will become increasingly useful in the workplace.

This doesn’t mean your child has to specialize, or carve out a career in robotics and programming, but it is about acknowledging that this is a very real language that will be useful for their future employment. There is also a worldwide shortage of programmers in the world today. Having a basic understanding and interest in robotics could get a young person’s foot in the door.

Reasons why children should be involved with robotics

Introducing your child to robotics and encouraging their interest in teaching machines how to do things will be advantageous.  The great thing about coding is that your child can actually see their work come to  life as the machine they are working with comes to life. It is a process that makes their thinking visible and they find this very rewarding which pushes them on to learning and creating more.

  • With robotics, and programming in general, becoming an increasingly ubiquitous part of our lives, and it is essential that future members of society at least have an understanding of the value, operation and limitations of programming and Robotics, even if they do not further a career in these fields.
  • Robotics is the 3D manifestation of 2D programming, and as such it is easier for students to conceptualize and understand what they are learning when they see the coding in action.
  • Robotics is built on the principles of Six Simple Machines, the technology and engineering principles that govern all forms of machines in the world. Being able to comprehend and recognize these principles, as well as being able to manipulate them in the safety of a robust product, leads students to have an appreciable knowledge of the machines in their daily lives.

LEGO® Robotics makes robotics accessible and fun for kids

Almost everyone enjoys building and creating with LEGO®. Having such a well-known and trusted brand as part of the learning process makes it fun for the students, which in turn promotes playful learning and that inspires children to become life-long learners.

Lego doesn’t offer a programme as such, but rather pedagogical tools that allows for the physical manifestation of a student’s STEM education. The Robotics tools are called:

  • LEGO® MINDSTORMS Education EV3
  • LEGO® Education WeDo 2.0.
    • The WeDo 2.0 is designed for students between 7 and 10 years old, and the EV3 is for students 10+ years (certain Universities utilize the hardware and software in relevant courses).

South African company, Hands On Technologies, has created curriculum that allows for the relative ease of implementation of such tools in South African schools, which has been designed by ex-teachers who now work in furthering the use of LEGO® manipulatives in playful learning in South Africa.

Robotics in schools

Currently, roughly 10% of Private Schools and 2% of all schools enjoy LEGO® Robotics either as part of their curriculum or as an after-school club.

There are members of the public that run LEGO® Robotics clubs in their personal capacity or as a business, a total of approximately 20 clubs across the country, though there are exciting new opportunities for entrepreneurs to become involved in franchise options.

Competitions generate interest

LEGO® Robotics has two international competitions that extend the value of the product outside of schools

  • WRO (World Robot Olympiad)
  • FLL (First LEGO League)

This allows students to test their Robotics skills in a competitive environment as well generate recognition of their abilities. These competitions are run provincially, nationally and internationally. We are also in the process of creating an inter-school robotics challenge that encourages students to interact with their peers, apply their knowledge of programming and Robotics, and allow parents to witness the growth of their child’s abilities.

View video footage here:

For more information

Hands On Technologies via email: info@handsontech.co.za, or telephone: 011 462 2581, or they may browse our website: www.handsontech.co.za

Information regarding LEGO® Robotics Competitions – WRO (World Robot Olympiad): www.wrosa.co.za, or FLL (First LEGO League): www.fllsa.org