Kids <3 robots. And why not? Robots are fun, interactive computers that do cool stuff. And when children have the chance to build and program their own robots, it teaches them creativity, fine motor skills, planning, critical thinking, algorithm design, and the scientific method.
Roseway Heights, a public K-8 school here in Portland, has offered an after-school Lego® Robotics class for several years. Over the course of eight weeks, third and fourth grade students break up into small teams and assemble a robot made of hundreds of beams, pins, gears, motors, and sensors. When the robot is built, the students use a Lego graphical application to program the robot to move along the floor, respond to commands and move objects. Each time, the kids are amazed and empowered when they see something they’ve created interact with them.
I’m currently teaching the Lego Robotics class. And while it’s been a great success, it’s also been limited by the number of robotic parts available to the students. Students are able to build the robot specified in the base Lego kit instructions, but have few options to take it in a new direction.
Luckily for them, New Relic has stepped in and is sponsoring the class this year. Our sponsorship provides much-needed funds to purchase additional parts. Now the kids have more choices on how to design their robots. They can choose whether they want to build a forklift, crazy lawn mower, Mars rover, ballerina, puppy, or rattlesnake.
Will these kids become the next generation of data nerds or will they build robots that take over the world? Only time will tell. But rest assured, New Relic will have played a part.