From Star Wars' R2-D2, to Wall-E, and Big Hero 6, robots have fascinated generations of kids and adults alike. It is also one of the fastest growing areas of technology in recent years. Self-driving cars, rovers exploring Mars, and robots capable of making fancy parkour jumps are all making the field of robotics ever more exciting.
Because of its hands-on nature, it is also one of the best areas for kids to start learning technologies and coding, and then expand to many other areas. So why learn robotics, what kind of career opportunities are there in robotics-related industries, and what are some of the best ways to learn robotics? Let’s take a look!
Take the first step by joining a free award-winning online small group Junior Robotics class led live by an expert, and designed by professionals from Google, Stanford, and MIT! And explore fun free live online tech events for kids.
How to Learn Robotics for Kids: Industry & Career Opportunities
The robotics industry is already a huge industry and still growing rapidly, expected to reach USD 75.6 billion by 2026. Robots are widely used in manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, hospitals, and even in our homes. Here are some of the top companies that build or use robots.
Key Technical Skills for Careers in Robotics
Robotics is a rapidly growing field, and the skills and knowledge gained through studying it can be valuable in a wide range of industries and careers, making it a relevant and practical subject for kids to learn.
Mechanical engineering: Whether it is building robot arms for assembling cars, humanoids, or drones, knowledge of mechanics, materials, and design principles is essential for building robots and their components.
Electrical engineering: Similarly, understanding of electronics and electrical systems is crucial for designing and building robots that can sense and respond to their environment.
Computer programming: Robots are controlled by computer software. Proficiency in coding such as Python, C++, and Java is necessary for developing software that enables robots to perform specific tasks.
Artificial intelligence: AI plays an increasingly important role in robotics. For example, computer vision allows self-driving cars to "see" - recognizing objects, tracking movement, and detecting obstacles. AI is also used in robotics for path planning, decision making and a lot more.
Data Science: Many advanced robots collect data in real time from sensors and other data sources. The ability to analyze data quickly is critical for robots to perform their functions.
Design: Robots need to be visually appealing and well-designed for practical use, which requires advanced design skills. 3D modeling skills are also important for prototyping and testing.
Why Learn Robotics for Kids?
Kids who enjoy building things get excited about robotics pretty easily. There are also some really cool movies about robots such as Big Hero 6, WALL-E, and Robots that show different aspects of robots. Studying robotics can offer kids a fun and engaging way to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math concepts, as well as develop important skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving.
Learn coding: Learn more advanced electronic concepts while finding out how to make robot toys do a lot more interesting things.
Diverse tech skills required: Robotics is one of the most diverse subjects, so every student is likely to find something they like.
Accessible: Many tools and resources have been developed to help students learn coding with virtual robotics environments, rather than needing to purchase a physical device.
Motivating, fun, and engaging: Kids are a lot more motivated to learn if they are excited about the topic. With robotics they can also see the results of their coding come to life in the real world, opening up a whole new realm of possibilities.
Hands-on: Many kids appreciate the virtual and physical world combination (they can watch their coding come to life in the real world!), which inspires them to really dig into coding.
Creativity and problem solving: Kids are able to design and build their own robots, program them to perform specific tasks, and come up with new ways to solve problems - all of which encourages creativity and innovation, and helps students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset.
Teamwork and leadership: Many schools participate in robotics competitions with help students learn how to work with friends and provides leadership opportunities.
How to Learn Robotics for Kids
Robotics spans a broad set of technologies such as general programing skills, AI, data science, and more. We will focus here on the foundational skills that are specific for robotics. The appropriate path to learn depends on both a student’s age as well as their experience. The following are what we recommend.
There are several dimensions we consider when evaluating what to teach students
- Ability to create fun, diverse projects based on students interests
- Enable learning in age appropriate ways and at the same time build computational thinking skills that are in line with what’s used in the industry
- General quality of the tool e.g, performance ease of use, feature richness
- How well students will resonate with it
- Accessibility of the tool, free and well built tools are the best
Robotics Learning Pathways for Different Age Groups of Children
To help parents of children at different pages, we have also listed pathways for each age group. Check them out at the respective pages for different age groups
- Classes for grades K-2
- Classes for grades 2-4
- Classes for grades 4-6
- Classes for grades 6-9
- Classes for grades 9-12
How to Learn Robotics for Kids FAQ
Explore answers to common questions about robotics education for kids and teens.
Q: Does my kid need to take all of these classes to learn robotics?
Except for Scratch coding, which we recommend for every student as the starting point, you can pick and choose what you enjoy from the list of the classes. The classes all cover very different content and we do recommend taking most of them, which you could do over the span of several years, to learn different skills related to robotics.
Q: Tell me more about Scratch and why my kid should learn Scratch if they are interested in robotics?
Scratch is a simple drag-and-drop programming language that’s a great introduction to programming for beginners. As students learn Scratch they’ll grapple with problems, build their creativity, and master core coding concepts that will all apply to their future work in robotics.
Q: What is Arduino?
Arduino is an open-source electronics platform that has an easy-to-use physical programmable circuit board and software. Learn more about Arduino here.
Q: What are some of the major robotics competitions?
Vex IQ challenge, First Robotics, and World Robot Olympiad’s Robomission. Discover more of the best robotics competitions for kids here.
You might also enjoy exploring the history of robotics for kids.