We've received a lot of good questions about using our entered robotics program with middle schoolers and so I wanted to take a few minutes to answer these questions and hopefully help you figure out if this program will be a good fit for your student. All right, let's dive in.
Question number one: How many lessons should we plan to do a week and how much time should we set aside?
Okay, well for a level A I would recommend one to two lessons a week. If your student is extra motivated they might be able to do three lessons a week during level A, that's a pretty doable amount. Each lesson is 45 to 60 minutes.
Beyond that it is helpful to set aside time for them to practice their new skills, but generally speaking most students end up doing that on their own, because here's the thing, you know, it's really fun to experiment with circuits and code and so it's unlikely you'll have to make them practice. They'll probably do that by themselves. The feedback we get from parents is that normally they'll have to drag their kids away from working on the robotics lessons and practicing to do the rest of their schoolwork. So I have faith this is gonna work out for you.
Now once they get to level B there is a definite increase in the depth of the lessons. They'll be working with more complex electrical components and more advanced code. So this is the sort of stuff that you'd see in a high school course or even a beginning college course. So at that point it's really helpful to slow down the lessons, you know, maybe one lessons every seven to 10 days would be a typically good place for a middle schooler and that leaves plenty of time to revisit concepts in lessons multiple times as well as to practice new electrical and coding skills.
So for a middle school student this would mean you'd be looking at completing levels A and B in a school year or maybe a bit longer depending on the student. It is definitely worth going at their pace though and making sure you are rock solid in their new skills before moving on to the next lesson, because, you know, they're young, right. There's plenty of time for them to complete all four levels.
All right, so question number two: Can this program be used independently or do I need to plan on teaching my child? Do I need to learn ahead of them?
All right, so we have four kids ourselves and we homeschool them, so this whole idea of working independently is near and dear to us. We have specifically written the lessons directly to the student with the goal that this program can be used independently, okay.
However, how successful any particular middle school student will be at using it independently is gonna be dependent on their maturity level and their motivation. The reality here is there's a pretty big sped in maturity level and academic ability during those middle school years. Some kids are really independent. Some may be working on advanced math, but some may still be cementing those basic skills and so I'd recommend following your child's lead and if working independently isn't a good fit for them then I'd recommend working along side them. You know, each section is well explained so it's open and go, there's no need to do any prep work and you don't need to learn ahead of them.
All right, question number three: What can my child do between lessons to practice?
All right, so we have designed each level to systematically build both electrical and coding skills and so a student can be very comfortable experimenting with new skills they've learned along with concepts they already knew. So for example, once they've completed a lesson they can redo those activities, but swap out components or change up the code to make a new project. I mean there are so many fun combinations.
Another options is that there are lots of projects using the Raspberry Pi and that's the mini computer that comes with the kit along with Python and those are available online. Now I'd recommend your student complete level A first ideally with the first few lessons of level B before attempting any projects they find online, but at that point they'll have both the skills and the set of electrical components to complete most beginner projects they would find.
Once they complete level B they should have the skills and components to tackle most intermediate projects they'd find online and there are so many of those. If you have concerns about them searching for projects randomly on the internet I understand, it's a scary world out there. I'd recommend the website rasberrypi.org, it's a kid friendly site with lots of great projects and that site has a great sorting function. So it brings up Raspberry Pi projects that specifically use Python and so that is really handy.
All right, next question: Can I teach more than one child?
Yes, absolutely and this is a great program for siblings or friends to do together. We have a decent number of users who are actually using the program with their own child and a friends child at the same time. I think that makes it more fun for everybody.
Now if two children live in the same house and they're pretty good about sharing, dare to dream, you can generally get away with using a single component kit. If sharing isn't realistic for them or you are teaching kids from different homes I'd recommend getting a component kit for each child so everyone has the ability to practice when they need to. Now we do have extra component kits available so you don't need to purchase like two sets of curriculum or anything like that, you can just get an extra component kit along with your curriculum.
All right, next question: Should my student complete all four levels?
All right, well this is really gonna depend on your goals and your students goals. On one hand we certainly encourage your child to complete all four levels. That will leave them with an impressive set of components, advanced coding skills, and the ability to tackle the vast majority of projects they would encounter online. So that's pretty cool, however, we realize that that may not be the goal for ever family. You know, some of our users are just looking to expose their children to these concepts, others just want to get them far enough along that they can work on some projects online.
Now we've designed each level to teach complementary electronics and coding skills. So if you stop after any given level they'll still have a solid base to work from, okay, but more specifically if you are looking for very basic expose to both electronics and coding I'd focus on completing level A. Level A, for example, is popular with homeschooling co-ops, it's easy to implement, it provides that basic information to kind of wet their appetite. If you're looking for solid intermediate skills, if that's your goal then you'll want to focus on completing at least through level B and possibly level C.
All right, final question: What should I order and when can we get started?
Okay, so here's the deal. There are a few options on the website, but I'd suggest ordering the level A and level B combination kit and for a couple reasons. It's a better deal than ordering the levels individually and it includes both the curriculum and the electrical components and it's a long list of components. For most middle school kids that would be a one year course. You can find that at 42electronics.com.
Now once you place the order you'll get an email with a link to download the curriculum and the kit with the parts gets shipped out in about one to three days. So you should be able to get started with lessons pretty quickly. All right, many thanks to everyone who's been asking questions and if there was something you wanted to know that I didn't cover please feel free to visit our website at 42electronics.com or reach out and email us.