'We have a shortage of 'golden hands' and 'smart heads'

News | 21 Feb 2018

Pupils from 125 Frisian primary schools give their robot a place on the stage in De Harmonie theater for the opening act: doing a dance together. Afterwards, main guest astronaut André Kuipers opens his story: ,,Which one of you is afraid of robots? Not me!''.

For a story of the Dutch astronaut, the children are, strangely enough, quite easy to 'peel free' from the techno playground. Playing with robots, 3D pens and high-tech electronics is fun, but that's not what they came for alone. ,,Andre Kuipers is walking there!'', a number of children cheer. After a fascinating story about his space journey, in which Kuipers shows with impressive videos what daily life is like on board a space station, the children of CBS De Bron from Dokkum are impressed. ,,He is cool and interesting.'' What André Kuipers succeeds in, their teacher cannot: keep a room full of children fascinated for more than an hour. ,,But André Kuipers has an interesting story!''


His grandfather's Meccano sparked his interest in technology as a child. Kuipers: ,,Now I try to pass on some of my love for technology to children''. According to Kuipers, you can't start early enough with this. ,,That's why it's great that Innovatiecluster Drachten promotes technology at school with a robot.'' Many teachers are not technically skilled, according to him. ,,After all, it is not for nothing that they have opted for teacher training, instead of training in technology. That makes it difficult for technology to enter the classroom.”

handsome heads

Frisian deputy Sander de Rouwe agrees. Together with alderman Roel Haverkort of the municipality of Smallingerland, he will award the prizes to the schools with the winning videos from the vlog challenge. “We are short of 'golden hands' and 'smart heads'. The director of Philips asked me: how will we get smart children to come and work for us in the future? By introducing them to technology at an early stage, of course. And that is exactly what is happening here today!” De Rouwe hopes that these children will help others to reassemble the robot. “This way the robot gets a new life in the next class.”

Touching with technology

Alderman Haverkort sees that too. "This is the age when you have to touch children with technology," Haverkort says. According to the alderman, that happens far too little now. According to him, primary schools are faced with the fact that there is no good technical education available for primary school. "They need help with this, as long as technology is not yet part of the curriculum." Children who are currently in primary school will choose further education in two or three years. Alderman Haverkort does not want to wait for that. ,,You see it today, schools themselves need technology education and children love it. This wakes you up with a day like today!"


Afterwards, the students of the Queen Wilhelmina School from Hollum, De Bron from Dokkum and Dr. J. Botkeschool from Damwoude André Kuipers exclusively for them alone. They want to know everything about him. Can you get lost in space? Why is the sky so blue? Is there life beyond Earth? Do you need to know everything to become an astronaut? Kuipers answers patiently and enthusiastically and concludes with a message. “Robots will make our lives a lot better because they will take over boring and dangerous things from us. That's why I'm not afraid of robots. However, we must ensure that robots remain in good hands. You can build a house with a stone, but you can also punch a hole in someone's head. That is why it is important that we on earth work for democracy, fundamental rights and human rights. That should ensure that robots remain in good hands.”

Visit EDU Robotics for more about technology in primary education.