Today’s young people are immersed in technology, but the most of that technology is intangible and difficult to conceptualize. Young students often have difficulty learning how to program iPhone games or design websites because those technologies are fundamentally abstract and intangible. In contrast, students can connect with robotics quickly because they are able to touch the robots and manipulate them directly.
For example, in an abstract setting it is difficult for students to understand the concept that every object has a ‘center of gravity’. When learning this concept, students are able to have the tangible experience of easily toppling a robot that is too ‘top-heavy’ while not being able to so easily topple a robot that has been build with a sufficiently low center of gravity. Having directly experienced the concept of ‘center of gravity’ rather than simply being told about it, these students are able to utilize the concept as a design consideration when building their own robots.
Nii Tettey Addo, the founder of the GYG Project made this statement at a technology training for children organized by GYG Project on Saturday, 28th April, 2018 for the children of Mamprobi Community in Accra: “By building with robots, students are able to create their own devices and gadgets that interact with the world. This is a profound and empowering experience, which greatly impacts students. These students learn that they can control the world around them by building machines”.
This instills confidence in students. Specifically, it instills technological competence. Students who grew up with smartphones and iPads learn to see technology not as an immutable aspect of their environment but rather as a tool that they can manipulate in order to achieve specific ends. This subtle change in perspective can have a profound impact on students’ futures.
Students will learn to see robotics as a fun hobby. Because of this, students are willing to engage deeply and creatively in this project. In a way, these students come away with a love of learning because they have realized that they need to learn the concepts they will be taught in order to build the robots that they imagine.
Traditional Lego sets come with handy-dandy instruction manuals. Unfortunately, these instruction manuals can become a crutch for students who don’t yet trust their own creative imaginations. Our goal is for students to learn to set aside the instruction manuals. Eventually, students learn that their own imaginations are the most powerful ‘instruction manuals’ ever to exist. We help students to reach this realization by guiding them through creative activities and ensuring that they can experience success. There is nothing more empowering than the experience of imagining something, building it, and then ultimately watching it work. Our instructors are uniquely able to help every student achieve this experience.