We live in an age where technology is rapidly advancing, and the next generation has to be prepared to face a future that demands the skill sets necessary to survive and thrive in a technological society. Take Singapore for instance, the Smart Nation initiative sets the way forward in a world where citizens are empowered to live more meaningful lives and businesses can be more productive by better positioning themselves for competition in the digital economy. And within the vast selection of skills to impart to a child, STEM subjects have recently gained traction amongst parents and educators.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. And to navigate a world where the internet, computers and artificial intelligence take the centre stage, it is suffice to say that having foundational knowledge in these fields would give any child a head start.
One really enriching yet fun activity that children can benefit from is robotics. These days, more parents are seeking classes, programs, competitions, activities, forums and more, for their children who are also captivated by the magic of STEM and robotics.
What is Robotics for Children?
Exposing children to robotics classes at a young age is pretty widespread today. Some schools have also started to indoctrinate robotics into their curriculum while others incorporate it as part of their co-curricular activities. This generally entails teaching and exposing children to the art and science of robotics and coding. Robotics classes can start as early as 4 years old up till a child’s teenage years.
At a younger age, children get to understand the basics of robotics, such as controlling the robots via a remote control. Older students, on the other hand, get the opportunity to explore complex concepts such as building, modifying and designing their very own robots, and learn how to program the robot’s movements through coding.
There are several brands on the market today that specialise in children’s robotics. One of the leading names in this field LEGO.
Understanding LEGO Robotics
LEGO has been at the forefront of providing educational toys for children, especially in the form of building blocks. Back in 1998, LEGO robotics released their first line of products, known as LEGO Mindstorms Robotics Invention System.
This set came with programmable bricks, motors and sensors that allow children to create various robots using LEGO Technic components. Today, the company has released several robotics products, each with its own target usage and age group. They include:
LEGO Boost: Made for beginners aged 7-12, the Boost Creative Toolbox comes with different bricks and elements to build five different robots. These 5 include a cat, a guitar, a mini robot maker, a truck and Vernie, a humanoid robot. The kit comes with an app that works with any of the models. Children can use block programming on the app to control the robots they have produced.
LEGO WeDo: The LEGO WeDo set is made for children aged 5-10 and consists of a kit to build simpler and easier robot models. These models are suitable for younger children with sizes that fit their smaller hands. Of course, like other sets, the kit also comes with a programmable hub that can be connected to a computer or tablet, and then used to program the robots using the LEGO WeDo software.
LEGO Education: This LEGO series is specifically made for robotics classes in a school or educational setting. The set comes with teaching resources for educators too. As this set is made for the classroom, they come with a larger number of components. There are several different types of LEGO Education sets including LEGO Education SPIKE Prime, LEGO Education WeDo 2.0, and LEGO Education Mindstorms Education EV3.
These LEGO sets are designed for varying levels of growth and development, as well as for different purposes. They are, however, all meant to be fun and allow children to develop both cognitively and mentally.
How Does LEGO Robotics Prepare My Child for the Future?
Current trends suggest that the next generation will be defined by rapid technological advances, especially in the field of Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of things. In fact, we’re already seeing the incorporation of robots in various industries, signalling future demand for skilled workers in the field of robotics.
LEGO Robotics classes offer a wide variety of benefits for young children as well as teenagers. Here’s how learning robotics is an essential part of preparing our children for the future.
1. Creating an Interest in STEM
Throughout the learning process, children will be exposed to core STEM concepts such as physics, engineering, mathematics, coding and programming. With this exposure, your child may discover a hidden love for STEM subjects and may even choose to pursue it as a career path once they’ve grown up. Even if they don’t, many of the STEM subjects they’re exposed to will help them understand complex concepts later on in life such as coding, and automation.
2. Enhancing Problem Solving Skills
LEGO robotics classes allow children to understand the fundamentals of problem solving such as understanding basic concepts, conceptualising solutions and practical application. Learning about situations like these encourages children to apply their creativity and kick-start their cognitive capabilities which sets the ground for more complex thinking later on in life.
Additionally, the structured way robotics is carried out means that they will be taught to break larger and more complicated problems into smaller, actionable issues while learning how to formulate solutions for these issues.
One of the key strategies in LEGO robotics for problem solving is the ‘engineering approach’. The steps involved are to identify the problem, design, build, program, test and share the solution. With this strategy, children will be able to approach problems in a more objective and structured manner.
3. Encourages Teamwork and Collaboration
In robotics classes, children very often need to work together to build and program their robots. Feedback is often given so that everyone can improve and this helps build their communication and social skills. Building communication skills from an early age comes in handy later in life when they’ll be better equipped to handle situations that require empathy, communication and problem solving capabilities to resolve conflict and disagreements.
4. Building Critical Thinking Skills
For students, it is important not just to learn how to follow instructions, but also, apply the knowledge that they have learnt in different situations. Although classroom-based learning focuses on memorising concepts, memorisation alone isn’t enough, since there has to come a time when students are able to apply what they have learned in real life, rather than simply regurgitate information with the sole objective of passing an examination.
Here’s where LEGO robotics classes will be beneficial for your child: Whether it’s working on a project, a tough homework assignment or a workplace challenge, learning how to apply the skills they have learnt to overcome life’s obstacles would give them an edge over their peers, who may not possess the same skills.
5. Fostering a Growth Mindset
Sending your child to robotics classes at a young age sets them up for learning more complex concepts, which in turn fosters the habit of continuous learning, which is a key foundational concept of the growth mindset.
6. Increasing Technological Literacy
In today’s competitive landscape, computer literacy alone will not be adequate. Today, children are already learning the foundations and application of technology from a young age. Robotics, for instance, helps children apply practical solutions to tackle real-world problems, while coding allows them to overcome modern day challenges.
LEGO Robotics Enriches Future Generations
The skills that young children learn through LEGO robotics is able to enhance their lives by preparing them for a future-centric economy. This means your children will have a strong head start in life, since they would have been equipped with the necessary foundational knowledge to thrive in school and beyond.
Interested in sending your child for STEM classes? Contact us today.