youth robotics education

Rockin’ Robot

Youth Robotics Education and the {YEL!} Robotics Evolution Summer Camp

It seems like every time we refresh our newsfeed, open the business section of the newspaper or read a blog, there is some emerging technology and the USA needs thousands (if not tens of thousands) of tech employees for those emerging technologies.  At {YEL!} we believe enrichment is an opportunity for gifted students to nurture their talents.  The {YEL!} Robotics Evolution summer camp is a great introduction into youth robotics education.  Students are allowed to build, code, modify, test, modify again and run their robots to complete different tasks and challenges each day.  What follows below are the Five Reasons we see youth robotics education to be so important.  

.

1. Robotics is the future

2. It’s a great career path

3. Coding is omnipresent

4. It’s creative

5. It’s exhilarating

Bonus: (What’s Next?)

Robotics is the future

Tesla self-driving car.

Uber, Lyft, Google, GM and other auto manufacturers are scrambling to perfect self-driving cars.

  • • Ford recently invested $1 billion in the self-driving engineers and technology of Argo AI.
  • • Tesla advertises a self-driving car available for sale on their website https://www.tesla.com/autopilot.
  • • An analyst for Fortune magazine believes that automated manufacturing will rise from 10% globally to 25% by 2025 (http://fortune.com/2016/11/08/china-automation-jobs/).
  • • 60 minutes highlighted the innovative economic developer, Joe Max Higgins, and what he has done to bring industry back to Mississippi.  In one instance, Joe’s retraining program helped a former Sara Lee factory employee learn quality control for a manufacturing plant that uses robotics.  She now earns $10,000 more a year at the new plant than at the now closed Sara Lee plant.

• Other industries where robotics are becoming more widely used include: Agriculture with self-driving combines; manufacturing of all types; law enforcement with surveillance and patrols; shipping with material movement; space with research and testing.  Keep in mind that robotics is still in its infancy and our children will be a big part of this ongoing evolution!

It’s a great career path

This is a view of robotics engineer jobs available on Indeed as of June 22, 2017.

    • • Note that there are 4,314 available jobs listed.

• Also note that the average salary is a healthy $98,658 per year.

I was told by a {YEL!} teacher that a friend’s son received a job offer based on the fact he had robotics experience through FIRST® Robotics Challenge listed on his LinkedIn profile.  Getting your kids started early in {YEL!} Robotics or Coding classes, FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL), FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC), or FIRST® Robotics Challenge is a great way to create excitement in your child and establish a possible career path.  More information on FLL, FTC and FRC can be found below in the What’s Next? section.

Coding is a large part of robotics education and coding is vital to future employment with the top tech companies in the USA.  In an article published on Quartz online (https://qz.com/778380/the-future-is-software-engineers-who-cant-code/) they made a couple of relevant points in the opening paragraphs:

  1. There are an estimated 223,000 unfilled coding jobs available in the United States.
  2. General Electric’s CEO has committed to teach every new hire how to code.  He is quoted from a LinkedIn post as saying, “It doesn’t matter whether you are in sales, finance or operations.  You may not end up being a programmer, but you will know how to code.”

Coding is omnipresent

We all touch coding hundreds, if not thousands, of times per day.  Of course it’s in our phones, our computers, websites we visit, and in the manufacturing of products we use.  It seems in this day and age that there is some form of code running around us at all times.  How much of a leg up will your child have if they get an introduction to coding and robotics at a young age?

More schools are offering coding as part of their curriculum.  Minnetonka Public Schools heralded that their schools now offer coding curriculum, however, the LEARN – Hour of Code website claims that 90% of parents want their child to study computer science, while only 40% of schools currently teach computer programming.

It’s creative

Kiddos love to manipulate things.  Whatever makes your toddler grab any object and bang it against the table to see how it works is the same thing that inspires your fourth grader to write a coding program, download it to a robot and watch how it makes the robot move.  Students in {YEL!} Robotics Evolution classes can often be seen running from the computer, to their robot, to the challenge mat, to the building box.  They are huffing and puffing, anxious, excited and having a great time…all while learning!

Kids love to create. We all love to create.  Maybe you’ve had a girl’s night out and part of the evening’s events is visiting a painting studio to paint your own canvas.  Maybe you’ve gone over to your neighbor’s house to help build a new ramp for the kids to ride their bikes over.  Maybe you are creating a presentation for your company’s next product.  We all love to create.  We all love to share our creations.  Kids and robots are the same.  They are so excited to share with parents what they contributed to their team’s robot, how it works and have parents watch it in action.  That is a big reason why every {YEL!} Robotics Evolution class ends with an hour long showcase of the last robotics challenge.

It’s exhilarating!

Robots are exhilarating.

That huffing and puffing excitement I mentioned earlier isn’t confined just to {YEL!} classes.  Visit any FIRST® robotics event or watch BattleBots on ABC and surely you’ll observe participants jumping, cheering, crying, maybe even crumbling to the ground.  This heart-pounding experience transcends age, gender and experience.

The tension is palpable.

What I’ve found as a four year FLL coach, as well as coaching {YEL!} robotics classes since 2001, is that no matter the result, the kids are thankful for the experience.  Kids sign up for {YEL!}, FLL, FTC and FRC programs again and again!

 

 

What’s Next?

The most common question from parents at the end of the {YEL!} Robotics Evolution summer camp is “What’s next?”  Your child has built a few robots, learned programming and teamwork.  Where do they take it from here?

  1. Join or start a FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) team.  FLL is different from the {YEL!} Robotics Evolution programs in a few ways:
    1. You can have up to 10 participants on the team.
    2. There are judging sessions on Core Values and each team must do a project separate from the robot and present that to judges.
    3. However, the programming, construction and teamwork elements that {YEL!} Robotics Evolution teaches is very similar to the FLL approach.
  2. Sign up for Scratch®.  Scratch® is a free, online, kid-friendly coding website that introduces young coders to the logic of loops, switches, variables and more. Scratch® is great because you can find your favorite project that others have made, view the code, and translate that code to whatever project you are working on.
    1. NOTE: {YEL!} is offering coding classes using Scratch® coming in 2017.  Call us at (800) 959-9261 to find out how to get coding into your school!
  3. Join or start a FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC) team for students in grades 7-12.  FTC is similar to FLL, but the coding and construction of the robot are a step up.  The robot components are metal rather than LEGO components.  The coding is Robot C, C++ or some other form of line coding.  A great next step for your middle school coding child.
  4. FIRST® Robotics Challenge (FRC) is kind of like running your own tech business.
    1. For grades 9-12.
    2. Teams may have up to 80 members.
    3. Robots can cost over $15,000.
    4. Teams practice for 6-12 weeks.
    5. The robots are much larger than FTC and certainly FLL.
    6. However, the principals are the same.  The logic your child learned coding robots in {YEL!} Robotics Evolution class or FLL still translates to FRC.  The teamwork, the core values, the exhilaration are all the same. Who knows, maybe your child will be the next one hired from a LinkedIn profile that lists robotics experience.

We hope to see you at a {YEL!} Robotics Evolution showcase sometime this summer.  CLICK HERE to find {YEL!} Robotics Evolution classes in your area or call us at (800) 959-9261 to find out how to get robotics and coding classes at your school.

We also have a blog post titled “How to plan and choose summer camps” that may serve as a guide.