Image | Kano
The world that is educating children born in the twenty-first century has very little to do with the world those older than 20 years experienced. At least from the point of view of technology; Internet, computers, smartphones, tablets and video game consoles are now part of the daily reality of children, which allows them to assimilate with technology naturally, almost innately.
An environment which such a clear predisposition towards accepting technology will allow children to work proficiently with tools that will be used during later adulthood. And this, if this done under the supervision of adults and in appropriate doses, is positive. But besides making the electronic devices that we have at home available, we can do something more for today´s children: allow them to play with any of the construction kits for electronic devices available for children in the market. There are more and more options, and they also have great educational value. Let´s see some of them in more detail.
Computers and robots for children
Image | Kano
Lego is a great example of a company that has adapted to the changing times. We all know their classic construction game with blocks, but in recent years the Danish company has found ways to reinvent themselves and offers to children a new collection of kits, known as Lego WeDo, with which you can build and program your own robots. These packages incorporate the typical construction blocks from Lego, and include various simple sensors and a small motor.
With these components, children can build small robots, which can later be programmed using a very intuitive software that can be installed in their computer. It certainly is a great way to allow them to take their first steps into the world of robots. In addition, Lego WeDo can also be programmed with Scratch, a free education software that has been developed by the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Another interesting option is Kano, a kit for building a computer designed specifically for children. The heart of this ingenious toy is a small board Raspberry Pi Model B which incorporates the main logic board of a computer. The other components of the package include a keyboard, a customizable chassis, a small speaker, HDMI and USB cables, an SD card that includes the operating system and other elements that children can assemble without difficulty. While they do have to follow the instructions that come with the kit, they are structured and designed so they are easy to understand. Kano will be available in September 2014 for 129 dollars (about 100 euros).
From Arduino and Raspberry Pi to Little Bits
The open hardware platform Arduino
and the low cost computer with architecture in a unique board Raspberry Pi are also two very interesting resources that can help children familiarize themselves with the world of hardware and software, from the most basic level. In fact, Raspberry Pi was born in the United Kingdom as a low cost computer that could help promote computer education in schools across the country. Both platforms are relatively simple and cheap and can stimulate the imagination of any child. Keep in mind that most of them do need the supervision and help of an adult, at least until the children are completely familiar with the components and operation of the kit.
Little Bits, like Arduino and Raspberry Pi, is a platform with enormous educational potential. In fact, it can be as attractive for an engineer or architect that needs to make a small scale prototype of a design, as it is for a child that is taking his first steps in the world of hardware and electronics. The main advantage of Little Bits, especially if we take children as our objective, is that you can build your own devices using blocks similar to Lego, but the main difference is that each one solves a particular small problem. In this way, children won´t just learn how to design and and create an electronic device, but how it can be useful to solve a big or small problem. The new educational methods are already available for us to use. Let´s take advantage of it.
The mSchools mSchools programme is a multi-faceted mEducation initiative by Mobile World Capital Barcelona, in collaboration with The Generalitat of Catalonia, Barcelona City Hall and GSMA.
Launched in 2013, mSchools supports students and teachers effectively integrating mobile technologies into the classroom. Mobile enables access to up-to-date materials, improves collaboration and strengthens learner engagement, opening up new ways of teaching and learning that improve achievement and employability.
The mSchools programme brings together private and public institutions to help students build important new skills and prepare them for today’s digital world.
Mobile World Capital presents a global vision that effectively integrates mobile technologies into the fabric of the industries transforming our lives. Committed to expanding the mobile experience throughout Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain with strong support of the public and private sector.
Mobile World Capital is leading mobile transformation through commitments in Competence Centres, local Industry Development, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation programmes.
MWCapital offers an open platform and exhibition showroom where citizens can understand and experience how mobile is enhancing our lives: The Mobile World Centre, located in the heart of Barcelona on Plaza Catalunya.