Introducing Children to the World of Consumer Robotics

Posted by basicmicro on April 10th, 2019

Hobbies are enriched by enthusiasm. This is true of any hobby, but especially for something as technical as robotics. It takes a lot of creativity and mental bandwidth to learn all the material, figure out how to apply it, and then creating the robots to make theory into reality. Switching from a single motor controller to a dual motor controller may seem like a simple change, but it's still something new to learn when you've already learned so much.

True, there are expenses to keep in mind, but the biggest limiter to hobby growth is interest and follow-through. The more advanced the hobby, the higher the bar is. Which is why it's important to constantly advocate for the hobby where appropriate. We all play a part in encouraging others to give it a try, and for every ten people that take a gander there's bound to be one or two who realize they really enjoy working with robotics. You've made a better friend, and your local scene just got a little bit bigger.

Children are more enthusiastic than most. There's no denying this. There's also no denying that children are uniquely capable of learning at a faster pace than adults. This means that they are also uniquely attuned to gaining an interest in and learning about a hobby like robotics, especially now that children are learning about computers from the time they're toddlers. Something like a USB motor controller may seem like second nature to them as they've been using USB technology for as long as they can remember. That's a little different for adults, who may be introduced to robotics concepts that feel foreign to them.

So how do we get kids involved? How do you make sure their eyes don't glaze over when you start telling your family about your latest design that uses a dual motor controller?

Many schools now host robotics events and classes

In schools with larger populations, the capacity to cater to niche interests is expanded. If there is a sizable number of kids in a school who are interested in robotics, it's possible that a class or club already exists for it. And if there isn't, it's possible you can petition the school and make it happen without too much of a struggle.

While involving your children in your hobby at home is a good start, they'll get the opportunity to develop their own personal interest in robotics if they can do so with their peers away from an authority figure.

Many schools are also affiliated with larger robotics competitions

There are several robotics competitions that are open to adults, but there are many that aren't. Indeed, some of the largest competitions in the world are dedicated to middle school and high school students. The market for adolescent ingenuity in the hobby is massive, and potentially even larger than the market for adults.

Schools with healthy interest in robotics also tend to have connections to larger events held in-state or nationally. By excelling in school, your child may also qualify for a showing at a large-scale competition. This is incredible, and there are many options available such as FIRST Robotics, EARLY Robotics, FIRST Lego, International Robot Olympiad, Junior Botball, VEX Robotics, and more. Some even require focus on a specific concept or use of a certain part like a USB motor controller, which is excellent for expanding a child's knowledge at a rapid pace in a short period of time.

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