Making a robot with my 6yr old

I’ve been working on and off with my 6yr old daughter making a wheely robot. Jerry the robot is now a play thing he’s asked for when her mates come round. He chases them around the place which they find a real hoot! What’s more they love the fact that Jerry crashes in to them.  We use simple limit switches that’s how he got his name he has whisker like sensing arms. What she’s enjoyed most is drawing the block diagram and the physical making of it. She got her first solder burn (a tiny splash sorted with arnica).Jerry DiagramShe’s shown no interest in programming Jerry (which uses Squirrel)  My experience with her and friends of this age is that they just don’t get the conceptual notion of programming. So doing stuff on a PC screen is too dull. That said they love the physical world stuff like Jerry and some of the other things I’ve done.  So this summer we are going to have fun with Pipes, Valves,  Motors and WATER!!

Best fit Programming types

I was wondering what would be the best programming langue/style based of their learning styles. NPL, Neuro-Linguistic Programming says we have three different learning types. Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic (touch). The issue for the second is that you can’t hear code. For the touch-ers there is computer science unplugged but that’s for older kids.

But the idea of learning coding concepts away from the machine is something we need to expand  at one code club they build hammer beads to design and explore the concept of gaming sprites.  Scratch seems to be the go to choice for 5 and 6yr old’s in UK schools I describe it as “jigsaw like” programming. My daughter is a visual/drawing type thinker but Scratch doesn’t work for her but visual flow diagramming does

flow style programming

Jerry

Jerry is build with a standard  kit of wheels, base and motors. We added a  motor controller chip and use the electricimp.com April board as the processor. Jerry uses a very simple crash strategy if he hits something he reverses and then heads left or right. We’ve had to add bit’s like the yellow ty wrap to sense when we he goes under the side board and two big head-on collision detectors for spindly chair legs.

CyberChimps