Today I wanted to take some time to go through some questions we've received from parents looking to use our Intro to Robotics course with their high school students.
Okay, let's dive in, question number one. How many lessons should I plan to do a week and how quickly can we finish a level?
Okay, so for level A I generally recommend high schoolers complete two to three lessons per week. Level A starts at the very beginning and it teaches the basic concepts your student will need to advance. Now these lessons aren't particularly difficult at this level but the information is important to learn well. And so it's worth taking their time and practicing the concepts.
Now once they get to level B and beyond the lessons do become more intense and completing one to two lessons per week is a better pace. Your student will be learning to work with more complex electrical components and have moved on to intermediate Python coding. Alright now there are 18 lessons in each level so at that pace most students can plan to complete levels A and B in a single semester or levels A through D over the course of a high school year.
Alright next question. Can this program be used independently or do I need to teach my student anything?
So we specifically wrote this program to teach directly to the student. You know assuming your child has a typical level of maturity and academic ability and motivation for a high school student odds are very good that they're gonna be able to tackle this program independently. Okay, however, if you're still working with them on some of those high school skills then please note this is an open and go program. So even if you sit and learn beside them there isn't a need for you to know anything, you don't have to do any prep work or teach any of the concepts. It's all right there for you.
Alright, question number three. What does this course cover?
Alright, so our Intro to Robotics course is comprised of four levels which initially teach electronics and coding and then later bring those two skills together along with working with motors to produce a fully functional robot in level D just like my friend here.
Along the way they learn to work safely with electricity, how to read electrical schematics and effective troubleshooting skills. You know in the end we want them to not only be able to not only be able to control circuits they build with code they write but to understand how to assemble all those components onto a moving platform.
Now if you'd like more details we have full scopes and sequences as well as several sample lessons available for each level on our website. You know and one of those sample lessons for each level is the final project so you can easily see what skills they will have acquired by the end of that level.
Alright, next question. Okay, why teach robotics instead of electronics or coding course in high school?
Okay, well, robotics is kind of an amazing subject because it requires skills in multiple technology areas to come together to be successful in designing and building a robot. So, for example, to build a functional robot you need to be able to build complex electrical circuits. You have to fit them on a platform with wheels and work with motors. You also need to be able to write pretty advanced code and have some pretty well honed troubleshooting skills 'cause you're gonna need them.
Finally, if you were designing your own project you need to develop some project management skills. So your student will need to articulate what they want the finished robot to do and then work backwards to design the electrical circuits and the code necessary to make that happen. Okay, now that's a good life skill, isn't it? But teaching robotics is not only a great way to ensure that complimentary skill set but you're also giving them a really solid base in multiple areas, in coding and electronics that they may decide to pursue in the future.
Alright, question number four. Should my high schooler plan on completing all four levels?
Alright, so that really depends on your goals. You know, on one hand we'd encourage your student to complete all four levels so they have a large set of electrical components to work with, advanced coding skills and they understand how to work with motors and generally have a solid skill set for tackling projects they find online or projects they dream up.
But we realize that that isn't the goal for every student, right. So some students are just looking to establish maybe an intermediate electronic and coding skills, in which case it might be appropriate to only plan to complete levels A and B. But here's the thing, whether your student completes only one level or all four levels please know that this program is designed to teach complimentary electronics and coding skills. So they can stop after any level and still have a solid base of skills to work with.
Alright, next question. Should my student be practicing in between lessons?
Yes, okay, but realistically they'll probably handle this part on their own. You know the feedback we get from parents is that they normally have to drag their kids away from practicing with the electrical components and the code.
So if your kid does end up looking for ideas though for practice one option is constantly experimenting with the activities included in the course. So your student can switch out the electrical components, alter the code and create new projects.
Another great option is to look online for projects that use both the Raspberry Pi and Python. Now I'd recommend they wait until they've completed level A and, ideally, a few lessons into level B before they attempt to find projects online. You know that will ensure that they have a solid skill base and a set of components and so they don't get discouraged. Raspberrypi.org is a great website to start with. They have lots of projects. They use both the Raspberry Pi and Python. It's also a well established and safe website which is a nice bonus for us parents.
Alright, so next question. As a homeschooler how do I assign high school credits when my student uses this program?
Alright, so first, assigning credits will be partially a function of your state or your country's home schooling law so I'm just gonna speak generally since I can't speak to your specific situation. The rule of thumb I often see is that a high school credit should be approximately 120 to 150 hours of course work.
So generally speaking, completing both level A and B would be about a half credit course. Completing all four levels, so A through D, would be a full credit high school course. Now if your student only wants to complete one, or maybe only three levels, if you need to get those course work hours up there are things you could do. You could take a full Python course at someplace like code.org or you could have them write a research paper on someone who has contributed significantly to the fields of electronics, or coding or robotics, somebody like Alan Turing or Ada Lovelace or Nikola Tesla, so one of those people would be great.
Okay, final question What should I order and how quickly can we get started?
Alright, so you have a few options on the website but for a high school student you'll want to check out the level A and level B combination kit. It's a better deal than ordering the levels individually and includes both the curriculum and the electrical components. Those two levels together are equivalent to about a half credit for a high school course. And you can find that at 42electronics.com.
Once you order you'll get a downloadable link so you'll be able to access your curriculum right away and then the physical components kit generally gets mailed out in one to three days. So you'll get that shortly and you can start working on lessons.