Robot makes children enthusiastic about technology

News | 19 May 2017

They still have to put it together, but they have already had a chance to practice with his 'brother'. Frisian deputy Sander de Rouwe handed over this first of 415 robots that will be awarded at all Frisian primary schools in the coming months. "We want to familiarize children with technology and prepare them for the future."

The initiative comes from the high-tech companies of Innovatiecluster Drachten in collaboration with the province of Fryslân, the municipality of Smallingerland and the two organizations for primary education in Fryslân. Kor Visscher of Innovatiecluster Drachten is happy with the enthusiasm of the children. ,,This is what we do it for! We want to introduce children to technology at the earliest possible age, so that they will hopefully make the choice for a technology course in secondary school.” . "That is why we are investing money and energy in this project, to make children interested in a job in technology at primary school."

Child development comes first

More and more primary schools are giving technology a permanent place in the curriculum. So also the Pioneer, the school of director Monika Schmidt in Leeuwarden. “Our school is already working a lot on new teaching methods and this robot fits in perfectly with that. We therefore hope that the children not only develop skills in the field of technology and programming, but also experience how you can work together and patiently put something together. In this way we are already trying to anticipate their future.” Erik Rietkerk agrees, he is a school administrator and speaks on behalf of the umbrella organizations Public Education Fryslân and Christian Primary Education Fryslân. “Learning material should be alive and students should be allowed to experience and be actively involved. The development of so-called 'Computational Thinking' and robotics is good for our students. The interests of the child are paramount in this project and that is why we are happy to participate.”

Education and business

According to councilor Roel Haverkort of the municipality of Smallingerland, who is also a partner in the project, this project is proof of good cooperation between education and the technological industry. "I am proud that Innovatiecluster Drachten is driving these developments and that we as a municipality are part of this."

Kor Visscher hopes and expects that the other provinces in the Northern Netherlands will follow after this project. “Together with the schools, we can ensure that this robot with the accompanying teaching program is given a permanent place in the 'Computational Thinking' learning track. MBO and HBO schools in the Northern Netherlands help with devising and programming the right software to further develop the teaching programme.

The project

With this edu-robotics project, 415 primary schools in Fryslân will receive a robot that children can assemble themselves and which can be controlled and programmed by means of an Arduino 'heart' processor. Each school receives a teaching package including support in the lesson from an MBO or HBO school. In addition, a working group has been set up to give the edu robot a permanent place in the 'Computational Thinking' learning track. The project officially started on March 30. The robots are distributed over all Frisian primary schools in three shifts. One shift before the summer and two shifts after, until all 415 schools have their own edu robot. At the beginning of 2018, a large festive event will be organized to bring all schools together with their edu robots. Here the children can show what they have taught their own robot.