Written by Kilian Suárez, development engineer at AIDA.
My 7 year old daughter’s school is involved in an educational project to raise awareness of the professions. The truth is that with this project they learn a lot of things about different professions and the children love it because they dress up, they do workshops, parents visit them and tell them about what they do, etc. And I wanted to do my bit and show them one of the main activities we do here at AIDA, which is programming. So I came up with the idea of giving them a robotics workshop.
When I told my daughter’s teacher about it, she thought it was a great idea, so I got to work. I already had a very cool robot at home that their Majesties the Three Wise Men had brought some years ago. One of the aspects I like the most about this robot is that you don’t need a mobile phone or tablet to use it.
The big question was how to set up the workshop for such young children and how to make it dynamic so that they could participate and not get bored.
This robot has two modes, a first “line” mode to follow a black line on a white background and a second “code” mode.
Starting from here, what I set the children was a first challenge where, using a white cardboard, they drew a big black line with lots of curves. They were divided into small groups and as they finished, I put “BOTI”, which is how my daughter named the robot, on the line to see if he was able to follow it. They did quite well, to be honest, because in many groups, BOTI was able to complete the whole route.
The second challenge was to give them more and more complicated challenges using the “code” mode. BOTI has a remote control from which you can send commands to move forward, backward, left or right. Then, I would set them a challenge to get from point A to point B, using little cards that were the same commands as the remote control. They had a period of time to decide as a group which sequence of cards to use and then, those who finished, reproduced this “programming” with the remote control, ordering BOTI how to move. The vast majority were able to solve the challenges.
Once the challenges were completed and overcome, what I wanted them to understand is that robots don’t do anything if we people don’t tell them what to do and how to do it.
Finally, and to top it all off, I did one last challenge with everyone sitting around me. BOTI had to reach a ball, pick it up and push it into a goal. The first time I didn’t succeed, I didn’t give the right orders, but the second time, the shout of all the children saying at the same time “GOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!!!” resounded through the whole school.
Thanks to CEIP En Arucas and to Inés, my daughter Irene’s teacher.