Robotics: Introducing Your Child to Problem Solving
I have one pin that has consistently been saved and re-pinned on Pinterest. It happens to be our Science curriculum this year for my 2nd grader. And he cannot get enough of it.
We’ve entered the world of robotics after experiencing them at one of the science days at Balboa Park this past summer. That one day, I saw the spark in my son. He was fascinated and excited. Eager to learn all he could. One of those things that could consume his entire day if I let him get lost in the world of robotics. I was worried though because of his age. He’s 7 after all and everything I read said Lego Mindstorms was for the older elementary and middle school kids. We took a leap of faith and made the investment.
WHAT TO PURCHASE
The set we purchased was the EV3 Homeschool Combo Pack. It includes the core set and software (what you need to get started) and the expansion set to keep us going after the curriculum. Beginners can get along just fine without the expansion set at first if you are looking to save on the upfront cost.
From a mom perspective, robotics sort of terrified me. I am not a math and science person. What has made robotics fun and easy for us was the curriculum I pinned above. It’s an Intro to Programming Lego Mindstorms EV3 from Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy. They have a FREE online version and teachers guide pdf. My son works from the online version where he is taught the basic commands of programming, how to sequence commands, and how to creatively think through the challenges they give at the end of a lesson. This is where robotics shines for me.
WHAT ROBOTICS TEACHES
By far the biggest lessons Robotics teaches is perseverance and critical thinking.
Let me give you an example. One of the challenges had my son building an arm extension using spare parts to hold an eraser. The end goal was to have the robot move across a “game board” and erase the board. So similar to cutting a lawn it had to go down one row, turn, move forward, turn again and go down the next. Repeat until the game board was completely erased.
First he had to build an arm extension. And he was hesitant to do so, asking for answers without trying first. His first attempt was unsuccessful. Well actually probably the first 10 attempts. But he was introduced to the process of tweaking. Of trial and error and most importantly, failure. He was introduced to the process of analyzing what works and what doesn’t and how to narrow his scope of focus to solve the original problem.
Robotics is challenging. Even for me. But if you have a child who truly shows passion for it, they will sit there and solve it no matter how long it takes or what age group it says it is for. Robotics requires constant thought and “if this, then that thinking.”
After we finish with this curriculum I have no idea what to do next! Have any ideas? Leave me a comment below!