Robotics, coding, STEM topics and soooo much fun…
Which robots are we using in Surrey schools and why?
There are many robot systems out there. Many are a bit like toys and others are more advanced but incredibly expensive (out of reach for schools). Lego is the main robotic system used with other clubs and many primary schools. Unfortunately, Lego is a bit limiting. It uses what we call ‘proprietary technology’. That’s technology/programming that has been developed by a company and is bespoke (not open source). That means if you want to collaborate, open up, add-to and develop your own variation of it.. well… you can’t. That allows the company to control their product and charge a lot for it. Sorry Lego, we don’t want Lego to teach our coms4kids club members.
At coms4kids we use the Makeblock range of robotic systems. These were born from the ‘maker community’ (an open source community that makes all sorts of amazing stuff and has genius contributors from the age of 8 to 80). Our robots use an Arduino Microprocessor at their core. That means they can pretty much do anything you want. Just search Youtube for the best Arduino projects around the World. Check out house Christmas lights to music, drones, 3D printing or plant watering devices and you’ll see, the only limit to this system, is your imagination. Here’s an inspiring TED talk about Arduino which tells you all you need to know.
What does the robotics club cover?
Our robots ultimately become fully functional track driven devices with robotic arms that can grab and carry. Imagine a bomb disposal robot.. or mini Mars Rover.. you get the picture (see below)! Before that, the children learn some key STEM topics linked to three different variations of our robot. We have listed just a small selection of items that our robotic system covers to give you an idea. In addition to these, we have other resources to draw on. Our robot has extra sensor and motor ports along its sides. That means we can turn it into lots of other things. Need fan turned on in the office when it gets too hot? Our robot can do that. Need to squirt an electric water pistol just for fun when the ultrasonic sensor detects someone walking past? Our robot can do that too!
The following items give you an idea of just some of the items our club covers. Some of these concepts might seem like they are too advanced for children, but they are not. Learning a coding concept in isolation, now that’s hard (and boring!). Coding your robot to zoom off across the classroom controlled by another child shining a torch on it.. now that’s just plain fun!
- Engineering concepts – tools & components
- Following instructions /understanding part functions
- Gyroscopic Sensors / motor control (like a Segway) x, y & z axis
- Ultrasonic Sensors / ultrasound electromagnetic radiation
- Light Sensors / photodiodes and meter readings
- Temperature Sensor / scales and outcomes
- Infra-red Sensor / line following and autonomous control
- Sound Sensor / sound waves and distances
- Buzzers, LEDs, USB radio wave connections
- Visual Coding (Scratch based but much more advanced)
- Methods of robotic control – manual, autonomous
- Programming encoder motors
- Two person ‘team’ control for external motors
- Using sensor values to code actions
- Introducing ‘If’, ‘Then’, ‘Else’ statements in coding
- Introducing Operators into coding
- Introducing Variables into coding
- Introduction to code libraries and ‘blocks’
If you would like to know more about our robots and the coms4kids robotics club, then please get in touch.