CoderZ is an online learning environment where kids learn how to program virtual and real robots within the STEM pathways. Problem-solving, critical thinking, computational thinking, teamwork, self-paced learning, formative assessment, robotics, classroom engagement: CoderZ includes all of these concepts and more.
Discovering different new ways to engage the new generations with robotics and with STEM related fields becomes a bigger challenge everyday. That is why, tools like CoderZ are being developed to give teachers, educators, and robotics experts the possibility to take a deep breath.
CoderZ’s new version, now compatible with the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 (through Lejos), enables students to program their own virtual robot and acquire 21st-century skills. Delivered with the “Coding Robots” curriculum, co-developed by Intelitek and Gary Garber, CoderZ becomes an scalable and effective way for students with different levels to experience the robotics world in class.
Having several gamified missions, motivates kids to accomplish them in order to move to a harder level. Also, CoderZ has a class management tool for teachers to track each student progress and activity.
Starting with a friendly drag-and-drop blockly visual editor, kids progress to code their virtual robot using Java.
Recently, the CoderZ team added to their previous FTC, First Tech Challenge, version, the new version mentioned before, which is compatible with the EV3 brick. Right now, the CoderZ team is offering a 14-day free trial which you can sign up for here.
CoderZ even gives you the option of driving and programming your virtual robot on the moon, taking into consideration friction and gravity. And of course, increasing the kids’ engagement with the robotics world. Although, for now, kids’ won’t be able to try their robot on the moon after they download the program, but who knows what Elon Musk will create in the next few years.
Pay some atención! CoderZ’s STEM learning environment is available both in English and in Español… Si señor!
This article has been automatically translated from German to English
Some weeks ago, I received the Meccanoid XL 2.0 as a review copy. Unfortunately, it was only a few weeks later that I found time to commit myself more closely with this new humanoid robot from Meccano. Even though I got the Meccanoid free of charge, this is a neutral report. Here are my first impressions after the assembly and the first hours of the „programming“.
The Meccanoid XL 2.0 is the successor of Meccanoid G15KS and its smaller G15 version. Even the G15 has received a successor with the Meccanoid 2.0 (excluding XL). The number of parts has been reduced slightly compared to its predecessor, and the previously existing building instructions for a dinosaur are missing on the robot now. There’s a new „Meccasaur“ Dino robot now as a separate product. Also accounted for, is the ability to control the robot through a Smartphone by controlling the movements in front of the camera. This option was apparently completely removed from the app and is also no longer available for the G15 or G15KS. Newly added are over 3000 new gestures and language editions, as well as possibilities of speech recognition. The understood vocabulary of the robot was so significantly expanded compared to the previous version. The Meccanoid XL 2.0 has a size of 1,20 m, what makes him to be really impressive, and an absolute eye-catcher.
The Assembly was largely problem-free; however I must confess at this point that I am a newbie in Meccano. The instructions could have been given in better quality, so it was difficult to identify building steps and the corresponding correct holes for the screws in some places. You should take special consideration on the cable guide, because this is neglected in the building instructions’ manual. Here planning and thinking is required, whereby the degree of difficulty is rather aimed at advanced hobbyists. Even the assembly time of 5-6 hours proves to me that this is not a robot Kit for beginners. The specified minimum age of 10 years here, in my opinion, is somewhat young. Certainly, children need assistance by an adult when reassembling.
The parts are different from what Meccano usually offers, not made of metal but of plastic. Meccano has already received criticism online for the plastic parts, but they did not disturb me. The motors of the robot parts made of iron would be more overworked than with new plastic model.
Unfortunately many of the components are very specialized, creating one’s customized building is complicated. The hope here is that a few days ago on the Meccano Facebook page, there was posted a video, belonging to a new „Meccano mega builds“ series. This series presented alternate building possibilities in combination with other Meccano sets. Also present is a video for a new „Mecca spider“, a robot spider based on the Meccanoid and the 25 in 1 4 x 4 off-roader set. Unfortunately, I have promised instructions in the video not yet on the Meccano site, but I have already informed the support team. Please more of such alternative models are for the meccanoid set!
The Meccanoid can be adjusted to different types of „Programming“. Movement can be recorded by the movement of the limb and play back by the push of a button. This is not of course the correct programming, but it can very quickly store movements, which can then be retrieved. This „programming mode“ is suitable for everyone who shuns the correct programming. Another mode is the recording of motion sequences with the Meccanoid app (for Android and iOS). In the app is a virtual robot available whose movements can be transferred to the real Meccanoid. This method also provides no proper programming, it also only records movements. Correct programming, however, is possible with the „drag and drop – programming“ in the app. Here simple programs can be put together, which is similar to how a flow chart is built. It can be used on events (inputs) such as time, engine movement, button pressure, etc be it responsive and affiliated movements, speech, LED color change and other operations will be launched. Here we can also easily learn how to program operations and programming constructions (loops, conditions). Since the Meccanoid contains no additional sensors, the possibilities here unfortunately are somewhat limited. The app offers an interactive tutorial with an English language edition and German subtitles. Appealing to children here is the ‚Coach Meccanoid‘ virtual robot that gradually step by step guides them on using the app.
Is the Meccanoid good for use in the classroom? No. With a construction period of 5-6 hours, the building period will take too long for teaching. The learning processes through movement of the robot offers no learning effect. The use of the built-in voice control and dialog function (which did not want to work with me in German), is based on volume which is not suitable for a class room. Drag- and -drop programming is certainly suitable for the classroom, unfortunately there is the lack of tasks set or instructions for the teaching of Meccano. The introduction to simple programming sequences can be taught with some adequate preparation. Additional advanced features give hope that the Meccano can provide a download portal for „open source programming“. Here you will find sample projects and libraries to control the meccanoid by third-party hardware.
As far as my impression of the Meccano Meccanoid XL 2.0, should you have questions or suggestions, you would like to use the comment function. Pictures and videos of the set up will be available here soon.
Dolls, Robots and Dreams: the aim is to engage more girls in Science & Tech by connecting their tablets and smartphones to their dolls via a robot
January 31st, 2017, Spielwarenmesse, Nuremberg, Germany
While millions of robots and mini-drones have been sold this year, few have ended up in the hands of women or even girls reflecting a deepening gender gap in the world of technology.
Many girls’ toys lag behind in the development of spatial skills, hands-on problem solving skills, and confidence with technology.
These are exactly the skills that SmartGurlz aims to develop.
SmartGurlz has a unique offering of stylish scooter robots, dolls and books with digital elements such as an e-learning platform that teaches basic coding. The idea is to encourage girls from being consumers of technology into creators and code writers.
‘We at SmartGurlz believe that kids learn by playing and childhood is a time for setting the foundation for further educational pursuits,’ said CEO and Co-Founder, Sharmi Albrechtsen, ‘we wanted to modernize doll playing to reflect changing times. The end result are really amazing mini-drones shaped like fashionable Italian scooters and Segway-like vehicles that are self-balancing, driven by App and can be coded using our own coding platform SugarCoded TM.’
The self-balancing aspect is unique since the robot can maneuver in small rooms, on carpet, inside and outside. SmartGurlz’s CTO, Thomas Kølbæk Jespersen has been working with Aalborg University and DTU’s robotics departments to finalise this unique feature.
Launched this 2016 Christmas in Denmark, Switzerland and UK, SmartGurlz charms geeks and toy masters but most importantly impresses girls and their parents with the amount of creative fun coding can give.
Designed by tech toy start-up company, SmartGurlz Aps, girls playing with SmartGurlz gain three major learnings:
1. SPATIAL REASONING. Girls learn how to direct/orient their robots in new environments and interpret maps.
2. COMPUTER PROGRAMMING. Girls learn to program their robots using our specially made kids coding software App called Sugar CodedTM*.
3. STORYTELLING & PROBLEM SOLVING.Girls learn to story tell and solve missions via coding.
*SugarCoded was inspired by open-sourced Scratch, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab and uses elements from Blockly, created by Google.
SMARTGURLZ NEW YORK STORY: CHARACTERS & BOOKS
SmartGurlz first product line is SmartGurlz New York ™ which focuses on the everyday adventures of 4 young talented women studying at the fictional New York Institute of Technology – N.I.T.
A collaboration with the Kurhn Doll Company allows us to offer high quality fashion/action dolls that represent the ideals of SmartGurlz New York TM.
SmartGurlz New York dolls are naturalistic and smartly dressed with simple elegance that you may find in a real-life, young woman touring around a college campus in the ‘Big Apple’, New York City. The multi-cultural dolls represent various education backgrounds including Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and our books highlight each girl’s corresponding story line.
SmartGurlz New York products are available Christmas 2016.
Siggy: Robot, Doll and Apps •Ages 6+
SugarCoded App•Free a strategic game-like interface that teaches coding and allows for self-build coding projects available at both App Store and Google Play
ABOUT SMARTGURLZ, A/S. SmartGurlz is a fun, tech toy to engage girls in design, robotics and computer programming using their mobile phones and tablets. It’s created for girls who want to take playing with fashion dolls to the next level, and the name of our little company. (We’re brand new!)
In 2014 UFACTORY built the first open source desktop robotic arm, ushering in a new era of affordable desktop robotic arms for consumers. uArm is an Arduino-powered desktop 4-axis parallel-mechanism robot, easy to use, has multiple accessories and open sourced. In Jan 2014, uArm went on Kickstarter and became famous overnight, leading to an exclusive interview with WIRED. A standout quote from the piece: “Thirty years ago Bill Gates promised to put a computer on every desk in America, an ambitious sentiment echoed by Wang and company … The most innovative aspect of the entire project is probably the concept of putting a robot arm on your desk”.
As the robot arm is moving to various industries, its users have expanded from relatively minority geeks to robot lovers. The demand for better and easier user experience is increasing.
January 23, 2017, UFACTORY returns again, announcing two robotic arms in uArm Swift Series. Swift is intended to highlight the elegant texture of the fuselage, lightweight and portable form and flexible movement, just like a swift. This series has uArm Swift and uArm Swift Pro.
uArm Swift enhanced the control algorithm and increased the accuracy by 50%, from 1cm to 5mm.
uArm Swift Pro adapted self-designed reducer. Working with a high-precision stepping motor, uArm Swift Pro minimizes gear gap, improves joint accuracy, and is more compact. The built-in 12-bit magnetic encoder and motor forms instant position feedback, achieving closed-loop control, and improves the accuracy to unprecedented 0.2mm, perfectly performs 3D printing and laser engraving.
Working scope improvement:
uArm Swift Series improves mechanical arm structure and increases working range by 20%, covering the working area of an entire A4 paper.
uArm Swift Series upgrades the main board. We choose Arduino MEGA 2560, which is nearly 10 times larger in the storage space compared to the previous UNO edition.
uArm Swift Series has 4-axis, whether equipped with fixtures or suction head, the end of uArm can freely steer, and the replacement of accessories requires less than 30 seconds.
uArm Swift/uArm Swift Pro have a built-in socket for selected Seeed Grove modules.
uArm Swift Series can be equipped with a smart car, the uCar. uCar is a mobile open-source car, with infrared avoidance, trajectory planning functions.
uArm Swift Series adapts CNC integral forming process, and the whole body is matte black. uArm Swift looks has a more minimalistic design. The aluminum body is light and stable, enhancing the overall rigidity.
Compared with the previous version, uArm Swift series redesigned the base, inserted the mainboard and added power button, function switching button, play button and menu button. The new indicator light shows the current operation mode and status of uArm Swift.
uArm Swift Series support PC + mobile control.
Software upgrade -uArm Studio
uArm Studio is a brand new cross-platform robotic arm control software. It has integrated offline learning, graphical programming and instant control functions, manipulate the robotic arm to finish complex tasks.
Teach & Play Offline Learning Mode
Teach uArm Swift by your own hand to learn move, gripping, dropping, and save them with just a click to replay on Blockly mode. uArm Swift can also sync offline learning data once connected.
Blockly-based graphical programming
Blockly is a web-based visual programming tool, allowing users to program without needing to code The software is designed to be so simple that even even preschool children could create a program easily. Detailed tutorial will be provided for your quick guide and interesting secondary development.
uArm Studio has combined control of keyboard and mouse. Developers may use keyboard hotkeys and mouse simultaneously to control move, gripping, and dropping of the robotic arm, and it supports customize hot keys.
After connect with LeapMotion, users of uArm Swift may use their own hand to control gesture such as move, gripping and dropping etc.
Software upgrade –
Robotic Arm has built-in Bluetooth module, simply connect your smartphone with uArm Play to remote control your uArm Swift or uArm Swift Pro.
Your smartphone can also work as an external actuator, download and run a program from Blockly.
UCS, also known as uArm Creator Studio, which is a open sourced developer tool developed by UFACTORY. UCS has integrated graphical programming and coding, to achieve features such as rapid development, visualize and easy sharing.
With numerous commands of UCS, developers don’t need to construct programming environment.
For programming developers, UCS is a rapid development tool, developers doesn’t need to construct programming environment, any interface of the whole system supports Python script, all variables can be sharing between visual programming and coding which means you don’t need to copy setting each time.
Built-in Robotic Vision
UCS has integrated complex robotic vision function, just need to connect with the camera, so the uArm can “see” and adapt to different environment.
The camera can instantly locate, memorize, recognize and track 3D space position of objects.
Every creator will be able to save their own work as .task file format through the UCS programming, and it supports one click sharing to the official website of UFACTORY or Reddit Community, copying scenario in just one click on other robotic arms.
The uArm Swift Pro is a “Open Sourced” design concept with more freedom, simplicity, and functions. This is a whole new open platform came from developers, back to developers, and still that Open Source Robotic Arm. We just can’t wait to become your comprehensive desktop assistant!
– Building on the company’s history of merging digital programming and physical building, LEGO BOOST will inspire a younger generation to build and code their way to limitless play –
LAS VEGAS, Jan. 4, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW – Today the LEGO Group announced LEGO® BOOST, a supercharged building and coding set that lets children bring their LEGO creations to life by adding movement, sound and personality. Unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, LEGO BOOST will be previewed to members of the global media at Digital Experience! on January 4 and will be demonstrated to CES attendees as part of the [email protected] Kids & Technology Marketplace from January 5-8, 2017 at the Sands Expo. With a suggested retail price of $159.99 (USD), LEGO BOOST will be available in the second half of 2017.
Build the Toy You Want LEGO BOOST combines the endless play opportunities of a traditional LEGO set with an endless variety of movement and sound capabilities made possible through an easy-to-use, app-based coding environment. LEGO BOOST was developed for children ages 7 and older by an international team of LEGO designers. Using familiar LEGO elements and simple coding language, LEGO BOOST delivers an intuitive approach and opportunities for quick success.
Powered by a Move Hub, a LEGO stud-covered brick with built-in tilt sensor upon which children can add LEGO elements, motors and a sensor that combines color and distance detection, LEGO BOOST brings movement to any LEGO creation. The set includes building instructions for five diverse models; Vernie the Robot, Frankie the Cat, the Guitar 4000, the Multi-Tool Rover 4 (M.T.R.4), and the Autobuilder, each designed to give children the basic building and coding skills needed to express their creativity by personalizing whatever they build.
„We know that children dream of bringing their LEGO creations to life, and our chief ambition for LEGO BOOST is to fulfill that wish. Once children build a LEGO creation, we give them simple coding tools to ‚boost‘ their models by adding personality,“ said Simon Kent, design lead for LEGO Group. „We want children to first and foremost have a fun and limitless play experience, adding the coding opportunity is the means to get there.“
Coding Brings Your Toy to Life LEGO BOOST introduces children to coding through a free downloadable app that contains the guidance, building instructions and simple coding commands to bring to life five LEGO creations, one at a time. Much like building with LEGO bricks, children build behaviors and actions by linking digital coding blocks in an easy-to-understand horizontal layout. To further personify the experience, LEGO BOOST lets children add voice recordings to their creations, adding personality without requiring spelling and typing. The app also includes more than 60 activities designed to inspire additional building, coding and play.
Creative Canvas Lets You Boost Any LEGO Creation To further inspire creative building and coding, the LEGO BOOST app includes a „creative canvas“ that includes basic building instructions for three simple base models that children can use to customize their own LEGO creations. The three bases available at launch include: a walking base for making animals like a dragon or a pony, a driving base for building vehicles like a dune buggy or rover, and an entrance base so that children can make their own castle, fort, or even a futuristic space station. Once children are comfortable with building and coding the various LEGO BOOST models, they can use the kit to „boost“ any LEGO creation – from LEGO CITY and LEGO Friends to LEGO NINJAGO and The LEGO BATMAN Movie.
LEGO® BOOST Includes:
3 BOOST Bricks:
Move Hub with built-in tilt sensor
Combination color & distance sensor
843 LEGO elements
Playmat, calibrated to the app, designed to facilitate mini challenges to practice simple coding trials
LEGO BOOST App
Free, downloadable app is iOS and Android tablet compatible
LEGO BOOST uses 6 AAA batteries. Alkaline batteries are recommended, but rechargeable batteries can be used, though may result in weaker power output.
Includes over 840 LEGO® pieces, plus a LEGO Move Hub, Interactive Motor and a Color & Distance Sensor.
Move Hub features Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity, two encoded motors, activation button, internal tilt sensor and a light.
Interactive Motor is an encoded motor.
Color & Distance Sensor detects distance, motion and color, and can also function as a light.
Check out the cool white, orange and blue color scheme.
Rotate Vernie’s head to activate its shoulder-mounted spring-loaded shooter.
Build the M.T.R.4 (Multi-Tooled Rover 4) and try out the different tool and customization attachments to prepare the vehicle for an array of exciting activities.
Learn how to play a song and rock out with the Guitar4000.
Look after your own pet with Frankie the Cat. Be sure to feed it the right food—or it might get upset!
Construct, code and operate the AutoBuilder to produce real miniature LEGO® models.
Build and code robots and models, and complete exciting activities with the playmat and intuitive LEGO® BOOST app, available for iOS and Android tablet devices.
Easy-to-use intuitive software with icon-based drag-and-drop coding interface.
Building instructions for all 5 models are included with the free LEGO® BOOST app.
This product requires batteries (not included). Please refer to the product packaging for type and quantity.
Vernie the robot stands over 10” (27cm) tall.
M.T.R.4 (Multi-Tooled Rover 4) measures over 4” (12cm) high, 9” (23cm) long and 5” (14cm) wide.
Guitar4000 measures over 1” (5cm) high, 16” (42cm) long and 5” (15cm) wide.
Frankie the Cat stands over 6” (17cm) tall.
The AutoBuilder measures over 10” (27cm) high, 7” (19cm) long and 6” (16cm) wide.
LEGO BOOST will be available at most stores and online shopping sites where toys are sold, through select consumer electronics retailers, and at LEGO Stores and shop.LEGO.com in the second half of 2017 and will have a suggested retail price of $159.99 USD, €159.99 (EUR) and $199.99 (CAD). For more information, visit www.LEGO.com/BOOST.
About the LEGO Group The LEGO Group is a privately held, family-owned company with headquarters in Billund, Denmark, and main offices in Enfield, USA, London, UK., Shanghai, China, and Singapore. Founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen, and based on the iconic LEGO® brick, it is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of play materials. Guided by the company spirit: „Only the best is good enough“, the company is committed to the development of children and aims to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow through creative play and learning. LEGO products are sold worldwide and can be virtually explored at www.LEGO.com.
All ages and skill levels can learn coding in an intuitive, interactive way.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. October 26, 2016 – Scansorial, a startup emerging from Harvard University, is on a mission to bridge the coding gap with the launch of their newest invention, Root: a fun, easy-to-use robot which teaches coding to anyone ages four to 99. Root has over 50 sensors and actuators with which it can draw, erase, play music, explore its world, and even defy gravity by using magnetism to drive on wall mounted whiteboards — making coding activities applicable to a range of topics, social, and way more cool.
Another thing that makes Root special is the interplay with iPad. Not only is it programmed from an iPad, with Root’s app the iPad sensors can be used to interact with Root in real-time (for instance, the iPad can be programmed to act as a steering wheel.) Programs can be modified even while they’re running which facilitates the real-time debugging of code as children flexibly pause, step through, or add instructions at any point. Root also promotes agent-based thinking by showing exactly what the robot sees on the iPad.
“We have a big problem in our country, nine out of 10 parents want their kids to learn computer science but only one out of 10 elementary schools actually teach it. This leaves 58 million kids stuck in the middle not knowing how to get a computer science education,” Zee Dubrovsky, CEO of Scansorial.
“We are thrilled to support Root as it heads out to change the world of education. iRobot is committed to STEM learning and excited to see one of our alumni carry this passion forward in a startup aimed at bringing robotics and programming into homes and classrooms.“ Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot.
About Scansorial, PBC
Founded in 2016, Scansorial is a Public Benefit Corporation on a mission to make coding accessible for learners of any age. Scansorial makes robots, apps, and curricula that allow people to instantly set up, create, and share interactive coding lessons. Robots are the best way to engage in the journey of learning how digital stuff really works. Scansorial is a privately-held company headquartered in Cambridge, MA.
The Root team has over 50 years of collective experience in launching and building consumer products (iRobot, Sonos, Apple) and software/education services (Microsoft, Disney, PLTW, Harvard, MIT). This includes launching four coding robots (Create, Kilobot, AERobot, Multiplo), launching two graphical coding environments (MIT App Inventor, Minibloq), and launching three consumer robots (Roomba, Scooba, Looj).
It is now possible to pre-order Root exclusively through Kickstarter through November 30. A limited number are priced at $145 which is only a fraction of its retail value. With a pledge of only $10, the campaign will put that money aside for schools in need that can’t afford Root. For any backers with deeper pockets, a pledge of $10,000 will put 60 Roots in a school of their choice and the campaign will promote these backers as a School Hero. Follow #SchoolHero to see who out there will step up to the plate and join this cause.
Vienna, Austria, Sept. 20, 2016 — The Vienna-based hardware startup Robo Wunderkind, which develops modular programmable robots for young children, announced today a $500,000 funding round with participation fromArkley VC as lead investor, business angel Juergen Habichler, and the Austrian Federal Promotional Bank (AWS). The funding will go into the widening of their retail reach and the expansion into new markets. The plan is to build a worldwide distribution system and to give young customers from everywhere a chance to learn coding and robotics in a fun and simple way.
The startup already raised $250,000 from backers from 58 countries on Kickstarter in October 2015 and by now collaborated with more than 50 schools around the globe to bring Robo Wunderkind to the classroom. Its vision is to revolutionize the way children interact with technologies through developing educational hardware and software products.
Piotr Wasowski, Managing Partner of Arkley VC:
“I expect Robo Wunderkind to transform how our kids interact with technology. Even very young children will be able to learn the basic principles of programming, which are vital for their future careers and for understanding the world around them.”
Juergen Habichler, Business Angel:
“Robo Wunderkind is the future of education. I have been looking for a long time to find a visionary team, which combines robotics with education. I strongly believe that Robo Wunderkind has the potential to become the education platform for kids, students as well as adults.“
Today, the startup is also announcing its new application to remote control electronic devices: the Robo Play App. Its simple programming interface will allow users to easily create personalized virtual dashboards to control the robots they will build with Robo Wunderkind modules, remotely via Bluetooth or Wifi. In the next step, the team is going to make the Robo Play App compatible with other Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as cameras, lights, motion and light sensors.
Rustem Akishbekov, co-founder and CEO at Robo Wunderkind:
“In the beginning, we wanted to create an interface that will allow even a 5-year old to control our robotics kit. Eventually, we created a platform that will allow us to expand our target audience and reach older users. With our app, everyone will be able to control their IoT devices with the help of a very intuitive and customizable app. The way our robots prepare young kids for the digital world of the 21st century, our app will open the world of IoT devices to everyone.”
Yuri Levin, Chief Design Officer:
“With the help of our user-friendly and intuitive design, we are making interaction with IoT devices seamless and accessible for the wider audience.”
Robo Play App is free and will work on both Android and iOS devices. It will be compatible with all Robo Wunderkind kits, which are already available for pre-orders on their website with shipping planned for later this year.
About Robo Wunderkind
Robo Wunderkind was founded by Rustem Akishbekov, who brought Anna Iarotska and Yuri Levin on board in 2013. The company is based in Vienna, Austria, and maintains an office in Shenzhen, China. In the last three years, the founders have gathered a team of passionate engineers and designers dedicated to the vision of making coding and robotics accessible to everyone. Their first product is an educational robot that syncs with intuitive mobile applications to help children understand the basics of programming. Robo Wunderkind was part of the world’s first and largest hardware accelerator HAX in 2014 and Finalist of TechCrunch Disrupt SF Startup Battlefield in 2015.
It’s no secret how exciting the trend of makerspaces are for schools. While this movement was started quite some time ago, it seems to have gained particularly great momentum in the past 5 years.
Built on the idea of ‘constructionism’, makerspaces are a very obviously translated idea, where a space is dedicated within a school or educational facility for students to create and ‘make’ things. There is shared resources and networking that takes place and provides a different structure of learning for students. Ranging from woodworks to robotics, these spaces are extremely important in fostering creativity and problem solving in students.
Where Will Makerspaces Work Best?
Makerspaces also range from elementary schools to college campuses, so their versatility is extremely useful.
“….certain materials and tools are emblematic of makerspaces, such as microcontrollers called arduinos and 3D printers, valuable for fast prototyping. As the notion of providing space for project design and construction has caught on in education, such places have acquired other accoutrements, from paints and easels and impromptu stage sets to cooktops and candy molds. Used by students, faculty, and staff, makerspaces have become arenas for informal, project-driven, self-directed learn- ing, providing workspace to tinker, try out solutions, and hear input from colleagues with similar interests. “
It’s places like these that encourage a different type of learning to take place, perhaps a more ‘open-range’ type of environment that differs from the structure of a classroom being led by a teacher.
Some supplies for a makerspace are less available than others, such as 3D printers and robots.
If you compare sharing a robot amongst a class of 20 students to them all sharing a computer to learn from; you can see how the essence of learning is diluted. The experience is completely different and likely not nearly as effective or beneficial to the students until it’s their “turn” to use the computer.
The same can be said for robotics. We know they are extremely useful for teaching many STEM concepts and early mechanical engineering, and LEGO robots are very popular for schools and competitions but start around $400. For most public schools, one robot may be more than is affordable so to effectively teach an entire class by sharing; the students are not receiving the best quality experience from their class.
Here is another example where the Virtual Robotics Toolkit can provide a solution to hundreds of schools and thousands of students, where each student is able to individually use the simulator. They can build and control their own robots using the exact same controller and concepts as the physical robots. In fact, if they’ve already learned how to use a LEGO EV3 MINDSTORMS or NXT robot, they will seamlessly navigate the VRT.
Pilots use flight simulators to learn to fly for the same reason students can learn robotics with one; costs and training purposes.
If students are given access to the VRT in addition to the makerspace of sharing a physical robot, their skills and overall experience will be greatly enhanced and at a fraction of the cost of a real robot.
It’s a win-win for teachers as well, since they’re able to help their class all get to the same level.
Where can this movement take students and educators?
The Educause article says, “One key demand of a makerspace is that it exist as a physical location where participants have room and opportunity for hands-on work, but as these environments evolve, we may see more virtual participation.”
This is such a great point, because of global networking the opportunities are truly endless. Again, here is a great window of opportunity for the VRT to be a part of your school’s makerspace. The software already encourages users to interact and even compete with other robot enthusiasts across the globe via the internet.
This capability allows students to learn from eachother and share ideas and challenges that they would otherwise not have had the access to.
XiaMen, China – May 22, 2016 – IronBot is a 3-in-1 buildable and programmable robotics kit for children age 8 and up. Kids will learn STEM and robotics, when they happily create a “little robot friend” of their own. On Tuesday, May 17, it was launched on Indiegogo, with early bird perk starting from just $89. (Indiegogo Link: https://igg.me/at/ironbot/x/12259168)
IronBot Includes three choices: a „Robot Arm,“ a „Biped Robot,“ or a „Humanoid Robot.“ As a step-by-step robotic learning kit, the robots are perfect for education and technical instruction, and are a fun playtime activity for children 8 years and up.
IronBot helps children to learn by following step-by-step easy instructions, easily explaining the components, which include, a servo-motor, manipulator assembly, Biped Robot and the Humanoid Robot. The IronBot kit will open the door to the world of robots to children of all ages.
According to the founders of IronBot, „Children can control their IronBot by Bluetooth®, and IronBot offers a coordinating, dedicated app. The robotic arm will pick up small objects or play a balloon game. The app can also race two biped robots. When a robot transforms to the next level humanoid form, kids can use a mobile phone to act as the brain of IronBot. Children will learn by audio and visual interaction using the mobile phone’s camera and microphone.“
The kit comes with a multimode progressive assembly, graphic programming and a personalization setting. Kids can name their robot, and program a personality, voice and story with a customized setting. The kit can be augmented by the children by crafting unique parts for their IronBots, creating unique characteristics on their own.