What is robotics?
Essentially, a robot is a mechanical device that can be programmed to follow a set of instructions.
The robot has a processing unit, sensors to perceive its environment, and motors and actuators to move its limbs or wheels. Robots need the ability to follow programmed instructions and not just be controlled remotely.
Inauguration of Robotic Lab @ Mitcon International School
Courtesy: Integrity Robotics Pvt Ltd.
Why should it be taught in schools?
There is considerable anecdotal evidence that students respond well in subjects involving programming of robots.
Plenty of resources are available on the internet for parents and teachers, for example, educational version of Dobot Arm which includes pick and place, 3D printing, Laser engraving, sketching, Joy Stick, Blocky programming environment and many more…
Robots lend themselves to do-it-yourself activities. For example, a colleague builds robots using a 3D printer and uses his smart phone as an interactive device to communicate with the printed robot.
Here are five reasons to teach robotics in schools:
1. Children find it fun
There are several competitions for a range of age groups that can channel competitive instincts in a positive way. For example, programming competitions, creating innovative experiments with robot etc…
In my experience, the two most engaging ways of introducing IT in the curriculum are robotics and computer game design.
2. Effective way of introducing programming to students
Programming can be too abstract. By having to control a physical robot and seeing what goes wrong, students learn what robots can and can’t do. They also learn the need for precise instructions.
Robotics helps address the growing demand for teaching science, technology, engineering and maths in schools. As well as exemplifying technology directly by programming the robot, students also learn about science, engineering and maths and get an understanding of how these subjects link together.
3. Provides skills useful in future employment
There’s no doubt that there will be a need for people to be involved in programming mechanical devices in the foreseeable future. India robotic industry is growing by 14% CAGR.
Dobot Magician is the miniature version of industrial robot with equal capabilities. Student can learn the robotic automation used in industries and also implement innovative ideas through dobot arm.
By programming robots, students can discover if they have aptitude and interest in a job market of the future.
4. Suitable for children with a range of abilities
There is [considerable evidence](http://scazlab.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/annurev-bioeng-071811-150036(1) that robots are particularly suitable for engaging with children on the autism spectrum. Children on the spectrum respond to the calm, clear, consistent interactions that robots can provide.
5. Demystifies a complex technology
Many stories in the media concern robots – one of the most recent focused on a report urging the United Nations to ban drones and “killer robots”.
Another report by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia warned that robots could replace 40% of Australian jobs by 2025 - which equates to around 5 million jobs over the next two decades.
Understanding what machines can and can’t do is the best way to address fears.
Experience in trying to build and program robots gives appreciation of their capabilities and strengths. Personally, I am looking forward to more robotic help in the future.