Written by Sahana Charan and published on 07 June 2021.
Do you want to introduce simple tech and engineering concepts to your child? Are you worried about his disinterest in science and math? AI and robotics could be the answer.
"Robotics is about us. It is the discipline of emulating our lives, of wondering how we work"- Rod Grupen, robotics expert and professor of computer science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Children are curious and like to explore and experiment with how different things work. Hence, this quote sums up the reason why learning about artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics may be beneficial to them.
After all, as the world makes giant strides in technology, these two disciplines seem to display a far-reaching impact on our daily lives. For children, learning AI and robotics means exploring new horizons, as well as getting ready for the future. Many schools and scientific institutions have introduced these subjects in the curriculum and also offer interesting short-term programs. These include prestigious organizations such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which event organize robotics competitions for students.
Before we get into the benefits of these streams, it is important to understand what AI and robotics constitute. Simply put, AI involves the development of computer programs aimed at mimicking human intelligence, while robotics revolves around the creation of robots.
Does your child make excuses when she must complete a mathematics project? Does she seem bored while learning scientific concepts? Robotics and AI programs for children are more about 'doing' than just 'learning' the theory, thereby making them an easier way to engage children. This, in turn, helps them to develop an interest in STEM, as they learn different aspects of these subjects through practical knowledge. In fact, concepts learned in robotics and AI can even be applied to subjects like economics and statistics.
If your child is interested in taking up computer science or related fields in the future, a robotics education can pave the way. As building robots and working with AI involves coding and programming that are relevant to computer science. Not to mention that there are some exciting options when it comes to careers in robotics.
In a robotics workshop, students often brainstorm to come up with the best solution while applying math and science concepts. This not only teaches them to solve problems but also to collaborate and consider different viewpoints.
"In his robotics class, my son is able to apply concepts from science, maths, and even humanities. So, what he learns theoretically, he is able to put into practice. Moreover, he is learning problem-solving and logical reasoning skills because when a particular set of instructions do not work, he has to apply alternatives until things work," says Nandhini, mother to a twelve-year-old.
"In robotics, children see the result of their learning more directly, compared to other subjects. They get to apply basic scientific concepts e.g. connecting the battery terminals to a motor and seeing it run. They use basic math to calculate the speed of objects, they use basic technology to pick up the right components, and they use basic engineering to put together all the components. And YES children get to experience STEM education in a more fun and creative way. This is not just a figment of their imagination, but a real-time moving structure that they have built with all the knowledge they have garnered," D Harish Vardhana, Operations Manager, SP Robotics MakerLab.
Children may sometimes get bored listening to long lectures on scientific theory. But not when they are applying their scientific knowledge to build a robot or an AI application.
"Robotics ignite the fun part of their brain. I have always told parents that if their children break apart their toys to discover what's inside and see how it works - this is the power of curiosity, which may eventually fade away as she grows up. So, the earlier her curiosity is fed with resources, the more fun she will have and the quicker she will learn," adds Harish Vardhana.
Exposure to AI and robotics is bound to expand your child's imagination and access to opportunities. He will reap the benefits of his knowledge, considering that there are so many applications of AI and robotics.
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