Computational thinking is the most important concept at the heart of the Computing curriculum. Its a tricky concept for most children to get their heads around and it can seem like a difficult concept to teach, but robotics offers a practical and exciting solution to the problem. Children are able to see the results of their programming as their robot springs into action. If it doesn't do what they expected, they will naturally check their code, performing debugging without even being taught. Robotics is motivating for children, with lots of scope for creativity and inventiveness.
Robotics kits fall into 2 main groups: ready-assembled or build and program robots. Which you choose will depend on what you want your learners to get out of the experience.
Build and Program KitsThese are kits with all the parts your pupils will need to build the robot from scratch. This is great if you want them to learn about how batteries and motors work to power moving parts. The processor will always come ready made to insert into your robot, so this won't require any specialist knowledge and the robot can be disassembled after use for a new learner. Robotics Workshop provides a comprehensive kit which will allow learners to experiment creatively with sensors and contains instructions for 12 different robots.
If a kit with hundreds of pieces fills you with dread, why not go for the mBot Ranger Kit. It can be easily transformed into 3 different robots, giving your pupils variety without taking a long time to build. It also comes with 10 educational games pre-installed, so it's a great choice to get you and your class started.
Assembled robotsIf you're more interested in your pupils learning how to program and control the robot, go for a ready-assembled kit. Obviously, these are ready to use more quickly and can be passed around many learners for shorter tasks. The Ohbot Assembled is a quirky programmable robotic head which can be programmed using the Scratch language and has seven motors for realistic movement. The Ohbot is also available in kit form. Also programmable by Scratch, the mBot is another easy all-in-one solution. This is a great choice for developing hands-on programming skills.
Robotics is becoming increasingly important in our day to day lives and looks set to impact every sector from retail to healthcare and transportation. Equipping children with the skills to adapt to this future from an early age is important for their development, and teaching through the use of robotics is a great way to give them the opportunities to solve real-world problems with computing in the classroom. Check out other robots in our Robotics Learning Collection to see which one is right for your class.