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Demystifying Robotics

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23 October 2011

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Twelve year 9 children from Nailsea School spend the afternoon acting as stakeholders for a novel product being developed by 6 groups of University students on Thursday 20th October that will demystify robotic concepts for children.

Back in the 1980’s the BBC Micro excited a generation of children into understanding the IT revolution and it is this generation that has been responsible for the UK’s success in the Games Industry. Its accessibility, simplicity and popularity sparked the imagination of thousands to develop their own programs and games.

Looking back these same inquisitive children would take a clock apart to study the mechanism inside and learn how it works. However today’s consumer electronics aren’t so accessible. An ability to see and understand how computers work has become obscured by their sophistication and children can only assume everything just works, like magic.

The project is a new collaboration between the University of Bristol (UoB), University of West of England (UWE) and the Watershed to highlight the expertise in Creative Technologies in the South West. Third year BSc students from UWE and Computer Science Masters Students from UoB have come together to combine their skills to develop novel products that will excite and teach a new generation robotics concepts. Robotics encompasses multiple disciplines, including mechanical engineering, software programming, electronics, and human psychology. It’s a great field to get children interested in because there are so many options for further study and exploration. The project is being led by Dr. Cater from UoB and Mr. Henshall & Mr. Gauss from UWE.

Even at this early stage when discussing some initial ideas for the product the children became really excited and asked “why can’t we be taught this at school. If electronics was like this at school then I would take it as an option.” The same children from Nailsea School will return in January to give feedback on the prototypes that have developed by the University students to solve this problem.