The world of the 21st century is increasingly built around computers and technology.
We interact with it every single day, from sending an email, watching a favorite TV show, texting a friend, and yes, for some, even driving your car.
This has resulted in our economy growing expansively with advances in technology. With expansion comes a plethora of job opportunities in STEM-related careers. An essential skill in some STEM-based jobs is coding.
However, It is also important to note that learning code and being interested in code does not automatically mean you are seeking a STEM career. Knowing how such a large part of your world operates can also feel empowering.
So what is one of the best ways to learn this technical skill? A Coding Robot!
In this article, you’ll learn all about coding, when to start, what robotics and coding can teach, and much more!
Table of Contents
Why is Coding Important
Coding is a technical STEM area (science, technology, engineering, and math). According to Code Monkey, a more formal definition of coding is the way we communicate with computers. Code tells the computer what actions to take.
Writing code is like creating a set of instructions for a tech product.
This isn’t just a physical product. Not only does learning this essential skill offer opportunities in the STEM field, but it engages with important parts of the brain and enhances creativity. It can be FUN using code to create a website, a phone application, or a tool for your community.
How incredibly rewarding is it to mock up a vision or dream and watch it come to life using code?
Coding engages analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. Skills essential for everyday life. Think about our very own website, STEM Education Guide, for a minute. We use a website creation tool to build a format, create links, and insert pictures and texts.
Behind this tool is coding that tells computers how the website should look and interact.
What happens if all of a sudden the website shuts down or a link to a post isn’t working? A coder behind the scenes will think analytically to find and solve these issues. They see the more significant problem and break it down into smaller pieces. Just another example of how an essential skill brings immediate results.
These skills then translate to your everyday life! We all face adversity, and having an innate problem-solving mindset can build resilience through adversity.
Using your creativity, problem-solving, and analytical thinking through a tangible skill like coding. It can bring and build so much confidence and motivation.
What is the Purpose of Robotics and Coding in a Curriculum
A STEM-based curriculum has many strengths, but one of its greatest is the ability to teach students the core STEM skills through hands-on, real-life problems.
Nothing sticks better than experiential learning. Have you ever seen how bright a child’s face lights up when they show you one of their drawings? STEM creates this type of experience on a day-to-day basis.
So, how does one teach the essential skill of coding in that same bright-eyed, confidence-building way? Insert robotics. Does anyone remember the scene in Willy Wonka when a robotic arm sadly replaces Charlie’s dad to screw on the toothpaste caps at the factory?
Robotics is becoming a huge part of our supply chain industry and in so many other areas of our economy (SPOILER: eventually, Charlie’s dad gets his job back by helping maintain and operate the robot).
Behind robotics is a person writing code for it to function properly. Robotic work is a functional step-by-step process that guides students in their thinking. Students must decide what it is that they want their robot to do.
Then, they need to write the code that will communicate to the robot to perform the function. Last, they try it out! No success? Students must then problem solve to find their errors.
What Skills do Robotics and Coding Teach Students
Robotics and coding teach students creativity, analytical problem-solving, self-motivation, and collaboration. Skills that set your students up for success in their future careers and relationships.
- Creativity – There are a ton of ways you can work with robotics to learn to code. From open-ended kits to step-by-step ones. Either route you choose, there is space to engage your creative side. You can ask a robot to perform whatever function you choose, and it is up to you how it is accomplished.
- Analytical Problem Solving – Technology isn’t perfect. One of the reasons is the number of operations that occurs behind the scenes. One letter or symbol off, and your robot won’t be able to perform its function. It takes patience to find the error. Coding also requires unique precision, forcing you to think and experiment.
- Self-motivation – Let’s face it, humans are motivated by tiny wins. Watching your vision and efforts come to life sparks a dose of serotonin release. A repetitive release of happy hormones is sure to encourage self-motivation.
- Collaboration – Not every project requires a group, but robotics and coding is set up for collaboration to thrive. When you collaborate, you practice communicating and sharing ideas that allow you to learn from one another.
What is a Good Age to Start Coding
We think there is no age limit on when to start coding. However, coding is considered “computer language.” Like spoken language, the earlier, the better. A little brain is like a sponge and has the ability to soak in a lot of information. Don’t let that part hold you back, though, because coding helps sharpen the brain. It is like taking your brain to the gym. It offers long-term cognitive benefits.
Another question might be, what if my kid wants to learn and we don’t know how? Don’t let that intimidate you either. There are so many resources and programs that support your child’s learning in a structured way. You can also learn along the way with them!
Check out our article, Coding for Kids: How Long Does it Take to learn? Which does a deep dive on coding for kids and what that process looks like when they are learning the coding language.
How to Get Started in Coding
There are several ways you can start to learn the basics of coding. A good foundation sets you up for the intricacies of different text-based coding languages down the road. No matter your age, we recommend starting with coding unplugged.
Coding unplugged allows you to practice concepts like sequencing, looping, and decomposition with syntax away from a screen. What is Syntax? Syntax is a set of rules that define what various sets of combinations and symbols mean. Each coding language has its own syntax.
For example, create a dance routine with your family. Choose 5 specific dance moves and the order you want them to be in (syntax). Then repeat those same dance moves 3 times (loop). You’ve created a full dance with its own set of rules on a repeating loop. In the same way, a repetition in code creates a loop.
For more coding unplugged ideas, check out this article, Coding Unplugged: 7 Awesome Offline Coding Activities. This is a fun, free way for kids to understand the bases of coding.
Once you’ve gained a rhythm of exercising your mind by identifying patterns and syntax. You can then explore block-based programming. Block-based programming is an intro to computer code. It offers interlocking blocks with pictures that tell the computer or robot how to interact.
is a GREAT introductory coding robot that teaches kids those basic terms mentioned above. TaleBot is recommended for ages 3-5, and there is no screen required. It includes interactive maps with picture cards to build TaleBot commands.
Botzees Coding Robot
The Botzees Coding Root is a coding robot that takes it to the next level with block-based coding! Botzee’s is for ages 4 and up. It includes 30 interactive functions for the robot to perform and multiple parts to build your Botzee how you want!
You can check to see if the Botzees Coding Robot is still available here.
There are also multiple iOS and Android applications out there that offer animated block-based coding. Applications like CodeSpark Academy, Daisy the Dinosaur, Hopscotch, and Scratch Junior. Perfect for littles still learning to read and anyone orienting themselves to the foundations of coding.
Code Monkey offers full courses for everyone. While the courses are not free, they are reasonable for a coding class that will walk kids from the very beginning to more advanced levels.
Check out more of the 11 Best Robots that teach kids how to code. The good news is these robots can be used by all ages. I also have a detailed buyer’s guide towards the bottom of that article that you should check out.
Coding Languages for Robotics Programming
CoffeeScript is one of the most well-known codes. It is a step up from block-based coding and enters you into the world of text-based. It closely mirrors the English language and is the code most commonly used for the web.
Python is what they call a “general code.” It can be used for multiple functions like web programming and software programming. Python’s set of rules is easy to understand, making it perfect for a beginner.
Coding is an essential technical STEM skill. Whether you need it for a career or are interested in it as a hobby. The benefits you gain remain the same. Robotics is the most impactful way to practice coding and reap its benefits.
When it comes to coding with robots, it is never too late, and you are never too young to start. Don’t be afraid to jump into the world of computer language and watch your work come to life in the robotic form!
If you’re looking for something for older kids or adults, then please check out our article, Best Robotics Kits for Adults: Beginner to Advanced.