Surprisingly enough, we have often heard the same words from our own and other people’s children, or even ourselves as children, in response to the question "What do you want to be? Professions of doctor, astronaut, teacher, cab driver are common among them. And somehow no one thinks about why this particular set. Where are the geologists, politicians, communication workers, bankers, foremen, engineers? Few people actually become astronauts or cab drivers. The answer lies on the surface: children aspire to what they understand. Everything is linear: a doctor – cures diseases, a cab driver – drives, an astronaut – flies into space, a teacher – there he is, next to them, teaches and makes friends with them. And what do the programmer, engineer, geologist, economist do? Meanwhile, it is in the simple question of "What to be?" begins the primary career guidance. And it is important that the child has an understanding of what is the chosen profession at this point in his life.
The question of children’s understanding of careers was taken up by educational researcher and vice president of the Museum of Science in Boston, Christina Kinningham. She asked younger students to draw an engineer at work. It turned out that engineers drive trains, build houses, bridges, and roads with helmets and bricks in their hands, but do not design them. Christina noted that such generally innocent drawings are disturbing. "If you have no idea what engineers do, you’re not likely to invent the profession in your career path, " she concluded.
And meanwhile, the profession of engineer (let’s include here both programmer and system architect) is the work of a person who creates the world that surrounds everyone from birth. On the one hand, the child is confronted with living nature – and actively studies it at natural history and environmental lessons, and on the other hand, the child is immersed in the anthropogenic environment. The same one that engineers have designed. But to the study of this half (and in the case of urban dwellers, most of it) of the world the schoolboy comes much later – when his basic personality traits are formed, the first career preferences are determined. And in this adolescent period a person begins to perceive the ideas of becoming an engineer, a programmer, an economist as a hostile intrusion of adults.
Let’s imagine the life of a modern child: city, transport, computer, tablet, phone, daddy’s car, train or airplane in summer, bicycle, light that turns off itself at home, electronic card in the canteen, etc. This is the world around him – the world he has to live in and which requires a systematic approach even if you are just a user. And meanwhile, children are great engineers by nature: pay attention to the way they plan their huts at home, how passionately they take apart toys and how much they love constructors. And it’s not a talent – it’s a desire to learn the very second – and main – world. Anthropogenic. And in childhood you have to help your child to understand how this world is organized – because of this talent will not be missed, if it exists from the beginning.
He is an engineer
So, if your child has the inclination to be an engineer and has a technical mindset, the first thing to do is to maintain interest. Busy parents tend to limit their involvement to buying books and a computer. But this is not enough – too many distractions, outdated information that the child can not discard because of the not yet developed critical thinking. In order not to discourage development and learning, it is important to initially engage in the process and combine what you need for life and what you like: learning and play. It is important not to limit oneself to the "child – technology" plane, it is necessary to pay attention to the development of communication skills and general thinking. In the very early grades, educational robotics, such as the LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 We’ve already looked at it in detail in first post on Gictimes , but now let’s focus more on the methodical aspect of recruitment.
Formation of the concept of experiment. In general, the whole life of a child is one solid experiment. Children learn the world by experience, asking questions, giving out their answers (making hypotheses) and getting the right solutions (a posteriori method). They are inherently inclined to the experiment scheme, which means it should be used. WeDo 2.0 integrates with PCs and tablets, allows to conduct the first experiments and record the results in prototypes of those forms with which schoolchildren and then students and scientists work in the future.
LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 – A robotics kit consisting of a "smart" control unit, functional components (wheels, gears, wires, connectors) and cubes to design the future system (first robot). This kit covers all areas of cognition : from the concept of experiment to the presentation of the results of one’s work.
Practical solutions. Working with WeDo 2.0 is practice-oriented – that is, the child, working with a robotic solution, sees and can hold in his hands the result of his activity, can relate it to objects of the real world, and understands how the model he created functions.
If you think that to build something useful and useful from LEGO you need several kits with smart modules, actuators, motors and a mountain of gears, you’re wrong – see how a photographer built a timelapse machine from relatively simple parts. The platform is powered by a motor that can run for up to 8 hours in constant motion on regular AA batteries.
Algorithmic thinking. Those who went to school in the mid-to-late ’90s will certainly remember how we were explained the concept of algorithm: looking at the familiar blackboard, we told how to boil the kettle, and the teacher carefully pointed out what we missed (open the kettle, light a match, pour water, turn on the burner, etc.). Then we drew flowcharts and that is how we came to understand the algorithm as a strict sequence of actions, each of which must be described. But if we had the opportunity to tell the algorithm in the process of heating tea, we would not forget about matches, lid, etc. The WeDo 2.0 complex is aimed at the fact that the child creates his first robot (i.e. the executor of the algorithm) and programs it. Thus, the student gets algorithmic thinking skills together with practice, gets into the basics of programming, and learns to understand the essence and properties of the system.
A lot of elements leave freedom for the imagination of a teacher (parent) and a schoolchild, especially since it is possible to take apart one model and assemble another. Thereby the child starts to understand that the solution is variable and it is possible to solve a problem in different ways from one and the same initial set, among which there are wrong, long, and optimum ways.
Data collection, analysis, and interpretation. When a child builds his or her first robot, there comes the moment of measuring movement and collecting data from sensors. All data must be recorded, compared, used with forms, and be able to interpret. It is important that the student not only successfully assemble the model, but also be able to continue to observe, draw conclusions, and talk about them. It is possible to arrange for a presentation in which the student talks about the process of building the robot, the programming, and the results of the observations. This will allow you to talk through all the steps, discover any gaps, ask new questions, and at the same time develop presentation skills.
Design and prototyping. For the future engineer, design and prototyping is an important part of the job. The system must be designed to be productive, economical, ergonomic, and functional. Of course, it is difficult for a schoolboy to understand the meaning of these words, and there is no need to. The main thing is to learn how to think in terms of convenience and simplicity of the solution (but not primitivism!). Prototyping is an important skill that helps you anticipate the result and go to it iteratively, in successive steps. Solution design allows you to learn about geometry, physics, and the concepts of symmetry and equilibrium in device control.
The classic version of the finished robot, although in fact there can be an infinite number of variations. LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 Although small, for example, compared to its older companion LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3, it is still a complete set for the first robotics experience, which is suitable not only for children, but also for anyone who wants to experiment with robotics, while having at hand a solid base, which can be repeatedly assembled and disassembled.
Here, for example, is what you can do with some imagination :
One more small tip – when working with schoolchildren (no matter whether you are a teacher or a parent), avoid simplifying the vocabulary and use engineering terminology. The child will perceive the conceptual apparatus as a part of the native language and will easily navigate it in the future.
In general, among the developers often hear the phrase: "The best programmers come from people with an engineering education. Of course, there is a share of professional chauvinism of those who became programmers, graduated from an engineering college in the 90s and early 2000s – then just less trained programmers. However, if you look carefully at the sample of professionals, the truth of the expression becomes apparent: good developers come from those who are good at designing and are able to mentally cover the system as a whole, rather than thinking in terms of individual "blocks". This is a very useful skill.
He is definitely not an engineer or undecided
Back to my high school days as a 90’s kid again – we were divided into classes of physicists and lyricists. Excellent physics and chemistry students looked contemptuously on lovers of reading and writing poetry, young poets appealed to Pushkin with failures in the exact sciences. In the early 2000s, we went off to college and then … retrained, because many lacked something – from basic computer literacy to programming skills.
Today the question of the need to form systemic and algorithmic thinking can be considered removed. Everyone, from the philologist to the spacecraft designer, needs it. The processes of deep integration of the sciences are conditioned by informatization, by the desire for research and investigation in all spheres. For example, computational linguistics, theoretical biomechanics, chemistry and computers help historians and archaeologists. Yes, it is still possible to keep a "pure" specialty, but scientists and practitioners with a combination of profile and computational skills have much better prospects. This is unlikely to change in the coming decades – the professions of the future are directly related to algorithms, data, and computation.
Commentary from a former state university instructor, 3 years of experience in higher education.
I taught statistics, economic analysis, and econometrics in financial management and applied computer science. It would seem that these guys are as close to technicians as possible. I, being young and in all trends, prepared classes with a PC orientation – both theory and practice. Still 3-5 courses, I expected to do "for real, " the way it happens in business – at their future jobs. Well, in general, what I got was almost the last straw, prompting me to forget about teaching forever. First of all, a lot of students are not friends with numbers and logic – this is about them answers from the category of "one and a half diggers. They don’t care what the difference between a decimal fraction and a percentage is. But this question can easily be solved by repeating it again, just in case they have forgotten. The worst thing is that students are not able to see correlations, find patterns, think systematically. This then a great hindrance in a career. I don’t know, to be honest, I would make a robotics course for them, too, to confront them with the concepts of algorithm, system, system control, interaction, etc.
So even if your child is not interested in technology, it is important to give him the right skills – and here learning through play (which is how the child perceives LEGO).
WeDo 2.0 helps shape An understanding of the discipline at the intersection of engineering and the underlying major You can suggest using the kit to achieve a goal related to the child’s hobby or aptitude – so he/she can understand that the technique is meant to help develop knowledge, to go deeper into processes.
WeDo 2.0 fosters imagination – robotics solution consists of many elements that can be combined and actually invent something new.Don’t insist on necessarily getting a car or all-terrain vehicle from the LEGO Education design-solution library, perhaps your child will create something you can’t even fathom.
Familiar parts of the favorite LEGO children regardless of the inclination will not be considered by them as a mandatory program or some overtime activity – the child will quickly get involved in the construction of the model, which then will also perform some commands.
WeDo 2.0 Builds communication, presentation, and collaborative skills These traits are especially evident in the case of group work. Almost gone are the days when an introverted scientist creates something in his laboratory and acquires fame. In the conditions of information globalization it is important to be able to communicate with colleagues, co-authors, experts. The ability to work in a team, being an effective member of it, is a lasting value of 21st century management.
WeDo 2.0 Makes a child independent and responsible for the result of the action. Working with the solution, the student learns to design, make decisions, and break down the work into tasks and subtasks. This helps build planning and self-organization skills that will help with both school assignments and future careers.
The education of any child is a complex process in which, moreover, several participants: parents, teachers, teachers of circles, tutors. And it is important to follow a few rules that will help make the training effective and pass the first steps of career guidance – it must still be formed in childhood.
- Speak to your child in clear language, but don’t substitute terms – let him immerse himself in the vocabulary, get into the essence of the terms. The imagination of a junior high schooler allows him to understand the definitions quite deeply, to imagine them.
- Use experience and experimentation – it is a natural way for a child to learn about the world. Plus, develop planning skills, hypothesis building, and reasoning.
- Let the schoolboy speak, not just silently write down the results of his observations in a notebook, so that he develops the skill of self-presentation.
- Try to work as a team – with yourself or other children, but the child must realize that he is part of a chain of interactions and that he is responsible for his section of the work. How he completes his steps will determine the entire outcome.
- Let your child make mistakes, don’t be afraid to make mistakes yourself – it’s important that there is dialogue and that the mistake is perceived as a starting point for finding a new solution.
And then the student learns a new theory, realizes a lot of unsolved problems and tries to find their solution. And then comes the time of invention – the creation of new designs capable of bringing real benefit to the world around them. The first robots have been replaced by LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 come LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 – solutions with a "smart brick" more serious, based on which you can already really invent. We already told you about inventions made with EV3.
Finally, robotics can be perfectly combined with any hobby – even music. How about Jimmy Hendricks in LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3, for example?
Of course, the young dreamer will still rush from astronautics to yellow checkers, from dancing to chess, then he will certainly choose agonizingly between VIC, aircraft construction and directing departments. Moreover, he will also change professions – such is the dynamics of our life. But thanks to his early education he will always have with him an understanding of algorithms, systems thinking, engineering ability to design and predict. And that has never stopped anyone anywhere.
And we hasten to congratulate the Russian team, which won four medals, including two golds, at the International Robotics Olympiad, on their big victory.
A team of Russian schoolchildren and students took part in the World Robotics Olympiad (WRO-2016), which was held in New Delhi (India). The Russian team presented innovative projects on the development of environmental infrastructure in the Arctic and the World Ocean, made on the basis of LEGO Education solutions. More details on Facebook
The Russian robotics team won prizes in 4 categories of WRO-2016 and even in the youngest one. Guys, we are proud of you!