Robotix: developing child intelligence

LABoral Centro de Arte is holding again its robotics for children summer workshops, ran by Robotix Educación.

Published: Jul 01, 2013

A few years ago the image of an eleven-year-old child designing a robot which receives instructions from a mobile telephone would have seemed typical of Spielberg in Artificial Intelligence. And yet, if we go to the Robotix workshops at LABoral Centro de Arte in Gijón, we realise to what extent intellect can be harnessed from childhood on.

The responsible use of new technologies implies for everyone - adults and young people – the application of intelligence criteria more than dependency. If in addition to instilling this in young children we succeed in enabling them to understand and design these machines, we will have taken one step further: to dominate technologies instead of being dominated by them. What will be the professional careers of the future? What studies and preparation will they need? As much as we find these questions repetitive, we have to find answers, not only in our interests, but also in the interests of future generations. And although it is difficult for us to forecast this, we can be sure of something and it is that we rely on the power of education as a generator of progress and in the role of technology in this.

In line with this commitment, this summer LABoral Centro de Arte in Gijón is holding again its robotics for children workshops, ran by the company Robotix Educación (Educated), at the art centre itself. Designed for children between 10 and 14 years old, the workshops prepare the children, through their teachers (facilitators), certified by LEGO Education, and with the use of entertainment tools, to not only turn them into little geniuses or engineers, creators of the future, but especially to learn skills that will be critical for their professional development.

But what is robotics and Robotix and what is it used for? For many, including myself, robotics generally sounds to us like science fiction; ignorance due to lack of awareness, as is almost always the case. Robotics is a fundamental part of technology which involves many different disciplines. Although until recently it was considered as something only done by engineers and technology experts, we have seen that not only can it be learnt from infancy, but that very productive results are obtained from this taking this action. In this sense, LEGO Education set up the Robotix programme, which consists in the design and production of robots in extracurricular workshops for children where the practice of the so-called STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is taught and as a consequence the cross-cutting nature of various educational subjects. So far they have been developed in countries such as Finland, Sweden, Korea, Japan and the United States. In Spain the company authorised to deliver these workshops is Robotix Educación and Antonio Rodríguez, its alma mater, has so far driven its implementation in Asturias, Galicia and León.

Among the objectives of these workshops we can especially highlight the development of four core competences: creativity, innovation, entrepreneurialship and teamwork. On the one hand, traditional education systems have focused attention on memorisation at the expense of creativity. However, it has been shown that in contrast the same concepts are learned more through action and creative practice. Creativity is also a key tool in nourishing critical thinking and motivation, just as the innovative faculty which has so much influence in overcoming the challenges of our times. The same could be said of entrepreneurialship, which is fostered in this case by ideas and solutions that each child brings to the group to meet the challenge that have been laid down. Teamworking is therefore the fourth of these competences, which contributes to communication and the launch of each robot.

How are these workshops carried out and what are are the robots like?  Firstly, the boys and girls are divided into groups of between 10 and 12 members. The pieces which will be used to build a robot, around 500, are shared out among them, and the teachers explain to them how the engines, sensors, and current technologies such as wifi or bluetooth, work. The facilitator presents them with a case they have to resolve, along with some instructions, a matrix base and some guidelines which, using their intelligence and freedom, by reasoning, talking to each other, observing, wandering about, asking and returning to act, the children design their own robots. They have fun and play while learning from their failures and successes as they reason and build. As a result, parents see a change in their children, not solely because of the technical learning itself, but in terms of motivation and the expertise gained through these edu-tainment activities. Each of these robots is a small and big project for them and consequently prepares them to develop themselves in various aspects of the society they find themselves in.

The Robotix workshops at LABoral take place this summer over 5 weeks, from Monday 8 July to Friday 9 August. Any interested parents or teachers may enrol children in one or two weeks. Most adults would be more than happy to sneak in among their engines! For further information, please contact:

LABoral Centro de Arte

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  • Los Prados, 121
  • 33203 Gijón (Asturias)
  • Spain
  • Phone: +34 985 185 577
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