If you have come this far it is because you have already heard about robotics for children. But it sounds very distant and complicated. In fact you will be thinking that it must be something for quite older children. Do you wanna know the truth? Your children can start assembling and programming their own robot today. Today, an 8-year-old boy can program his own robot. But a 6-7 can start programming. Many tools are appearing for children to learn robotics. And I'll tell you more, I'll explain how to teach robotics for children. Go for it!
From programming to robotics
I imagine that you have seen thousands of academies that offer to teach your robotics children. I see parents as crazy pointing their children to academies to set up robots. Today there are thousands of robots that can be assembled at home. But of course, the life of these robots is very limited. The children try to mount them (the parents are the ones who split the horns by mounting them) and then connect them to the tablet and drive them from there.
Hey, it sounds very nice but... is not this the same as downloading apps on the phone and playing with them? It's like what they say about 'teaching them to fish and not giving them fish'. These robots alone do not get anything. And I have nothing against them. In fact, I secretly love Zowi. A robot that if you are careless, starts dancing and dancing.
But the difference is that I can modify Zowi at my whim, your children can not . That's why I like to spend a time learning to program , so that when the long-awaited robot arrives, do not settle for the games of moving back and forth that come in the tablets, but create their own programs in the robot . In this way, if they want that every time there is something near the robot, it makes a noise to scare the intruders in their room, to do so. If they want, when the light comes through the window, the alarm will sound because they program it. But do not get stuck in the four games that the companies offer them.
WHAT IS SCRATCH?
For this programming (which sounds very serious) I use Scratch. Scratch is a program that allows children to make video games . A simple program that can be downloaded or used online and that, in addition to teaching them to program, opens their imagination. There are no limits. In fact, I have students who have learned how to search, save and edit Google photographs only to design the game, just as they wanted.
But hey, do not be scared by the words ' programming ' and ' video games '. In Scratch what is done is to program in such a simple way that it seems that they are not doing it. What children do is put together very simple blocks that will allow them to make those games . In programming are the loops or conditionals. In Scratch there are their counterparts that anyone can understand: repetitions, etc ... In fact, there are guides for parents who want to teach their children to program without knowing how to program .
But of course, programming video games is not the same as programming robots ... or yes. Seeing the fame of Scratch, many have rolled up their sleeves and set to work to create things that make the robots program in a simple way .
This is the origin of projects like S4A , what they do is adapt Scratch so that programmable boards such as Arduino can be connected to it . Sure, you would not think robots only have engines, right? They have a plate that is the brain and that is what is really programmed . But well, let's say that S4A has a problem, it allows you to program with help.
I say help because this is where the academies that I spoke to at the beginning appear. That's why I told you that robots seem a bad option when they do not come with programming. Because children have a hard time experimenting on their own. Once you know how to program everything is much more fluid , they open a new dimension.
Because it goes from programming videogames to programming something physical, something palpable . And above, everything is connected so the physical part is something that you do not have to worry about since it is given.
And that's why a lot of robots have emerged. Of the robots that are on the market, the one that seems to be most used is the Printbot Evolution .
THE BQ PRINTBOT
Printbot is a range of bq robots which are assembled by children and can be programmed by themselves . So that the robots do not come 'naked' there are three programs that you can easily download from the Internet.
The first allows to follow black lines . Maybe you've seen those circuits of black tape. If you have not seen them you can imagine them. It is black adhesive tape stuck to the ground. The secret is that it is black, the robot using its sensors detects that color and follows it, modifying the route to follow that color at all times. No matter the ins and outs of submitting it , the Printbot will not deviate from the trajectory.
The second option is to flee from the light . This way, if you turn off the lights, the Printbot will not move. But if you focus on it with a flashlight, it will try to hide from it. This happens by another sensor that has in the front that allows you to measure how much light there is in the environment and thus decide what to do.
The one that seems to me more curious of the three is the program that allows avoiding obstacles . The eyes that Printbot has are really ultrasound sensors. They detect if there is any object in front of them. Therefore, what the robot does is analyze if there is something right, center and left and decide which is the best possible way to avoid hitting anything. In the case of feeling cornered, he moves backwards in search of a safe place.
How to add these functionalities can be quite a nuisance, in the community they have created an app that allows to activate these modes . In addition to being able to move forward, backward, left and right your robot from any tablet or Android smartphone . It is also allowed to program these actions so that if you have a labyrinth, you can program the robot to exit it.
Although these things seem very limited for a robot, they have much more to offer.
BITBLOQ AND DIWO
And the limitation is broken with bitbloq . bitbloq is the Scratch of bq , let's say it is your official program to program the robots of the Madrid company. With it children program the robots but not with the predetermined programs, but they attack the brain of the robot to do what they want. Either make a circuit or turn on some lights from time to time.
bitbloq has one thing that I have not seen in other programs: you can choose the components with images. Children are able to distinguish if what they are going to program is an engine or a light sensor because the program has images that help to situate what everything is . Then it is based on choosing that component that you are seeing in reality and adding a series of instructions in the form of blocks of colors that allow you to create what you have in mind.
The truth is that the only difficulty children will encounter is assembly . But hey, the parent-child relationship can be improved with this type of activities. The important thing is that they play and put on their own challenges. Maybe they themselves believe things you never would have imagined . For that, DIWO has been created . DIWO is the place where bq things happen .
Any doubt is resolved there. You will find things like the Printbot programs or the app that I mentioned before. In addition, in each of its publications have the option to add comments. Comments that users have used to freely ask all those questions or problems that arise with these products.
Although, the most interesting part of the page are the courses. There are courses for each of your robots. Also for the plate or for any experiment that comes to mind. All documented, with images and code included. In addition, in bitbloq there is an area to share projects, in which each person shares what they are doing with the community. A good starting point for anyone who buys an educational product from this company .
Robotics for children has only just begun
Well, at this point I have to leave you. I have told you about the Printbot Evolution, but I have also mentioned my secret love to Zowi , which has already been spoken of in these parts. And it is programmed the same as the Printbot, with bitbloq. The grace of Zowi I think it is that it seems more real. It looks more like the robots in the movies. But hey, with a good base in programming, any robot is good for your son.
I hope you've been all this fuss a little clearer and if you have any questions ... to the comments! ;)