Best Age Range for the Intro to Robotics Program

 


Video Transcript:

One of the most common questions I get here at 42 Electronics, is whether or not a child is ready to start our Intro to Robotics program. Parents email us all day long to ask this question and I thought that maybe it would be helpful to talk through the age range for the program, kinda why we set it up that way, why we make that recommendation, and then also talk through, if your kids are a little bit younger, how you might be able to modify the program to use it effectively with them. And then at the end, I'll talk briefly about what you can do if your kids are very young, say first, second, third, fourth grade. How you can set that groundwork for them, so as they get older, they're in a good position to more formally study electronics and coding and robotics long-term.

Okay. So let's start first with the Intro to Robotics program. We have designed the program to be used by students who are in middle school and high school. Now, we targeted that range specifically because one of our goals with this program is to teach the why. Why do the electrical components work the way they do? Why are circuits designed to function or designed in a certain way so they can function? Why is code set up the way it is? What is the logic behind that code? And those are skills that are a lot more difficult to teach if a student hasn't reached a point where they can really dive into the math and the science and the logic behind why these things work the way they do.

Our overarching goal with our program is understanding for the student. I mean, I could give students a bunch of pieces and tell them exactly how to snap them together and give them codes and say just copy this line by line, but that's not where the learning comes at, right? That's not really empowering your student long-term with skills that they can use to make other projects and to design other programs.

So, that's our goal, right? We want that understanding so that they can go out and do amazing things long term. And to understand the science and the math behind some of these things, they really do need to be a little bit older. That allows us, for example, to dive into the algebra that goes into calculating how much electricity you need flowing through a circuit, so you have enough to power your components which each have different requirements, but not so much electricity that you blow everything up. Because that's important, right?

Okay, so what do you do, though, if your kids are a little bit younger? Okay, so if you have, let's say a fifth grader who really wants to study these things but you're not quite sure they're ready for the math and science, what I'll generally recommend is that they work alongside either yourself or maybe an older brother or sister who's working through the program. So rather than just hand them the program, like you'd be able to do with a middle school or high school student, you would sit down and work through the program yourself and they would shadow you. And so, you would maybe work through the material on a more superficial level, the sections where we dive into the math and the science and the more complex idea, you could maybe skip those initially. Just talk maybe about the broader ideas in each lesson and do the projects with them. And then, when they're a little bit older, they can go back through the curriculum on their own and dive into those more complex topics, okay? And get that more deep learning that they're gonna need long-term.

Okay. So I also get a lot of emails from parents who have much younger children, so first, second, third, fourth grade asking is there any way to use this program with them? Or is there anything else that they could do? So here is what we recommend and this is what we do with our own kids 'cause we have older children and younger children.

So, with our little kids, once they're about six or seven, we start them on Scratch Jr, which is a computer coding language that was invented by MIT. Now, Scratch and Scratch Jr, so there's one for kids of elementary and there's one for kids, they're in like lower elementary grades. Scratch and Scratch Jr are free. One of the things I love as a mom is that it is a downloadable system, so that your kids don't have to be online when they're working on it. And the system is drag and drop icons and what it really does is give kids kind of that fundamental understanding of the logic behind how code works. The way that we have to line up things, the way that code will refer to itself at various points. And so that's just really training them with that logic and that idea.

And then the next thing that we do is we give our kids what are called Snap Circuits and you can find these on Amazon, I saw them at Target the other day. And they are kid-friendly electrical components that snap together, as the name implies, and help kids learn to do things like build basic circuits. And it's a lot of fun. As a parent, I recommend that you get the biggest set you can because more projects is more fun. Some of these sets have like 700 different projects that you can do.

And those systems that help you lay that important groundwork because really what you wanna do with these younger kids is inspire them, you nurture their curiosity, work on their logic skills. This will set the groundwork later, so that they can dive into the math and the science and the higher level learning that it takes to really work through learning the electronics and the coding and eventually to build a robot.

Okay, now if you have any questions about any of that, please feel free to reach out, you can email me (click here to send an email).

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