Learn Robotics from “Scratch”
By Carla Perino, STEAM Robotics Instructor
The Discovery Channel television series BattleBots® is proof positive that robotics continues to gain in popularity. Now seen in over 150 countries, this robot-based series boasts an impressive audience following of more than 4.9 million energetic fans, boys, girls, and their parents.
So, what’s the appeal of actually making a robot? Well, it’s something that you can actually create using your own talent, creativity, and imagination. And, it’s something new to learn, really fun and challenging. I have been teaching robotics (both virtually and in-person) to kids, ages 5 to 13, for more than 6 years now using a special interactive computer program called “Scratch.” Like the program name says, students are able to build a variety of working robots using LEGGO® blocks and a special toolbox based on the all-important STEAM curriculum. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics and is specially designed to help children prepare for the 21st. century.
Each kid-friendly Scratch project is age-appropriate and follows a step-by-step process that teaches basic design techniques, strategic thinking, how to work with electronic components, animation, and trial and error problem-solving skills. Most classes use PC-based software programs that typically use “drop and drag” techniques while stressing how each step builds upon another.
Along the way, our programs allow each young robot builder to create and use the unique “codes” that bring their project to life. For example, students can make an alligator snap his snout…have their airplane’s propeller spin for takeoff…navigate a water maze…and make a lion jump on command by remote control. More advanced classes physically build prototype robots that can perform actual tasks or battle an opponent.
In my class, no one falls behind because our small class size allows me to give individual attention to each and every young robot builder which, in turn, builds the skills and confidence necessary to complete each project and add their own personal “touch.” Students learn at their own pace within an exciting, fun-filled, and challenging learning experience. And when each project is completed, the students receive an exclusive code and app that permits the transfer of their one-of-a-kind creations to their personal computer or laptop for more fun at home.
So, do you have what it takes to build your own working robot? All you really need is some curiosity, creativity, and the desire to build your own working robot. If you’re up for this unique challenge, I invite you to join one of our many Robotic Scratch Classes, which are available in beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. For more information and class schedules, or if you wish to join one of our classes, please have a parent or adult guardian contact STEAM Academies by calling 201-701-0554 or sending an email [email protected] Our academy is conveniently located at 17 Chestnut Street in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and offers summer, after-school, evening, and weekend classes.
I certainly look forward to helping you explore our unique robotics experience by becoming a “scratch” designer. Hope to meet you soon!