Mission Possible

Understanding Robotics

There is a strong relationship between robotics and programming. Parents look at me perplexed when I tell them the prerequisite for robotics is a quick simple introduction to coding. You can't have one without the other, the robot will do nothing without code.

I love introducing Robotics to Grades 4 and 5. They have already been introduced to simple machines, velocity and speed in their science and math classes, so I get to build on those concepts. We start with a simple coding lesson, usually using Scratch (a language developed by M.I.T.). We begin by coding the Scratch sprite, which is an on-screen robot. The introduction lesson involves commanding the Sprite to pick up boxes and drop them at different stations depending on coordinates and the color of the box. Students learn different commands, syntax and develop a strong understanding for the basics in coding. They make an make a connection between geometry used as a real life application.

At this point on the lesson, we start building the actual robot. Students are given task their robots will need to perform. With these specific requirements each student uses their imagination and creativity to carefully design the robot. Does the robot need strength or maneuverability? How can I build it so it weights less, in order to move fast? Does it need to be longer or short?

Next the coding begins.  It is slower than building a robot, and it is very much like learning a new language. The syntax and logic must be correct. Each step must be coded and nothing is left to imagination of the student.

The final stages are testing the design and code. There is a continuous trial and error process during testing. Nothing is right the first time around. The students rely on each other for ideas for improvement.

Robotics is a wonderful tool to add to students enrichment curriculum. It definitely is a stepping stone towards their career in engineering and science.

Computerwisekids offers robotics courses for Grades 4-5 & Grades 6-8. Check out our after school classes & summer camp schedule/details at www.computerwiskekids.com or Call 818.206.2628