How to Make a Robot for Kids

How to Make a Robot for Kids

15 years ago if someone had started speaking to me about a robot I would probably have had in my mind a resemblance of C-3PO. A shiny human shaped being that could act on his own carrying out similar tasks to a human. While humanoid beings are being produced, there is a simple reason that they aren’t at the centre of our day to day lives yet. They can be much more useful! For the meanwhile we are better at being human and robots are better suited to carrying out specific tasks. 

There are two different types of robots around, robots that are artificially intelligent (AI) or robots that aren’t. Robots without artificial intelligence are only able to carry out the tasks that have been programmed into them. This means that they are not able to adapt to the surrounding environment. An example of this type of robot can be found on an assembly line in a factory. It is commanded to strike the hammer once every second and that is what it will do. Robots with artificial intelligence are able to be more adaptive depending on the situation. A good example of an AI robot is a lawnmower. These robotic lawnmowers are given a very broad task: ‘Mow the lawn’. While this may sound like a simple task you have to think about what is being calculated. Is this the end of the grass? Have I hit something? Am I just mowing the same patch over and over again? For this you need something more intelligent that can act based on these inputs.

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Why You Should Build a Robot

Maybe it is science fiction or the complex mess of wires one sees on TV, but people seem to think it is much harder to build a robot than it actually is. Robotics is an activity anyone can do. The main reason to begin learning about robotics is that it is fun. The limit is the sky when you build a robot. It is not like another toy in the way that it can only do one thing and inevitably gets boring after a while. You can always modify or reprogram your robot. Another reason to learn about robots is that it is an enjoyable way to get started with coding. Learning coding through robotics is a great way to get your head around some of the logic and reasoning that underpins coding. At Tech Camp it is our strong belief that learning is most productive when you are immediately applying the concepts to a project. This is a reason we love robotics so much.


How to Get Started With Robotics

The most popular way of beginning to learn about robotics is by trying kits. Robot kits are very easy to get started with, often coming with instructions or preprogrammed circuit boards. On the internet you can find kits which help you build any different kind of robot you want, ranging from mechanical arms to pets. Another great thing about kits is that you can program most of them further using your own knowledge. This means that the possibilities of your kits are endless. When buying a kit you should look at what language the robot understands. If you are looking for a kit for a slightly younger child you might want a robot which takes a drag and drop language instead of a more complex one. Having said this robotics can be a good way of learning code. You can also buy kits which are a little more adaptable. More adaptable kits leave more up to your imagination and you can get really creative with what they look like and what they do. Invent! Blocks are kits which we have developed here at tech camp. The robots can be used by absolute beginners being controlled with drag and drop coding but also accommodates more advanced coding languages such as Python and JavaScript. All of the kits come with a base board meaning that aren’t held back if you want to make the robot your own and really start to modify it. The great thing about these kits is that there is an online curriculum to help you get started building and programming your robot. Even though you can build our designs, the pieces that are in the kits can be used in any different combination to build countless different robots.

Image result for invent blocks robot kits"

Robotics Camps

Another way of getting involved in robotics is by enrolling on a robotics summer school or camp. These camps introduce robotics and coding in a fun and hands on atmosphere with other children. Today there are so many around that you will always be able to find a camp that caters for the level you are looking for. This is important since you don’t want to feel that the kids are either totally out of their depth or being held back at all. Camps are good because you usually have a tutor who can answer any pressing questions or help if someone is stuck. A group learning atmosphere is also constructive since if someone has a positive idea for their robot they can help other campers incorporate it into theirs. At Tech Camp we run summer coding camps that introduce new concepts while applying them to a project. Our Robowars camp helps kids learn about coding while building a fighting robot. At the end of the week the robots are pitched against each other in a battle situation where the best robot wins. Due to all the constructive fun that can be had it is no surprise that we have found kids almost always enjoy learning about robotics.