We're really excited to announce a robotics workshop for children aged 9-12. It will be on 8th April at Imperial College. More details here.
The workshop is going to have a strong emphasis on exploration and fun. We're going to get the kids to take toys apart and wire them back up to do their bidding. We've been really impressed by the Crumble micro-controller. It can control 2 motors and handle a number of different inputs so robots can react to their environment. Crumble is programmed using a visual language so its a great introduction to programming, too.
Children's education is often severely underserved for hands-on tactile learning which is a shame. Not only is making stuff really fun but it puts so much of what we study in school in context.
Many of the concepts in science sound laughably abstract if you don't have a good amount of making/doing experience. Friction for example: why would anyone care that the coefficient of friction differs between materials? Well if you're trying to stop your robot buggy from skidding around the floor you'll realise you want back wheels with plenty of friction and perhaps a caster at the front that slides nicely.
Think back to science lessons when you were at school I'll guarantee you're not remembering writing notes, you're remembering a practical you did. For me it's chromatography to separate the pigments in grass when I was 12. Melting glass rods to make fibre optics for GCSE physics. Dissecting rats for A-Level biology.
Something I've noticed as a tutor is the very poor motor skills of many children. As an experiment ask a 12 year old to draw a circle with a pair of compasses. I've yet to find one that doesn't struggle to do this. They tend to resort to holding both legs and/or press the pin really hard into the paper with often messy results. My point is that children aren't getting the tactile learning they need.
Come to the workshop. Do something with your hands!