The Robot School: Future-proofing the youth

20 October 2021 | Technology


Today’s children do not have an idea of what the future holds. Yes, I sound I an old fogey when I say that, but just look at how your profession has changed in the last 5 years.
Synced digital diaries have nearly sunk our much-beloved stationary stories. So too Musica, which even in it’s prime, had bargain-bins filled to the brim with signs of changing times.
Workforces around the world are bracing to gauge the impacts of AI, Industrial IOT and automation on industries. Developing economies, who are in fact the most well-propositioned to capitalize on the 4th industrial age, are struggling to transition, and very importantly train, those on their demographic targets and even those on fringes to adapt to these changing ways of working, let alone, thinking.
“According to the World Economic Forum, over half of the world’s young people will end up in jobs that haven’t been created yet. Considering the current curriculum that children between the ages of 6 and 13 are learning, it is worth noting that this curriculum was developed years ago and in parallel, the digital era and Fourth Industrial Revolution are changing everything around us daily – these two need to go hand-in-hand if we are to learn the skills we need today, sadly this is not the case for many countries,” explained Bjorn and Kirstin Wiedow of FABlab fame, who in 2018 founded the, RobotSchool in Windhoek, with the aim of being ‘the robotics hardware and software school for kids of the future’.
Bright and binary
“Technology is no doubt building the future as we all witness explosions of it in our everyday lives; from the fast evolving of the brick phone to the super sleek iPhone and now tablets and even locally designed small form factor computers like the inspirational PEBL from local innovator Vincent van Wyk, we are dependent on it to survive,” said Kirstin Wiedow.
Preparing the youth to be an actively contributing generation requires investment in new educational content such as robotics, coding and technological troubleshooting.
“Building a foundation in the fundamentals of the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) fields is the basis every child needs; we believe that kids as young as 6 years old should have access to a creative and engaging environment where they can learn about the inner workings of the tools they are so accustomed to and use through every touchpoint of their lives; applying critical thinking and, thereby, becoming the problem-solvers of tomorrows glitches” said she added.
The local team have strategically partnered with one of Japan’s most promising young start-ups to bring a phenomenal curriculum to the country which has a duration of 5 years. “Learners start with the basics and progress to Python and high-level programming applied to robotics when they enter their final year before graduating with a Master Certificate at the young age of 13” explained Wiedow.
Bright and Binary
During a tour of their premises next the Camelthorn Pod in Klein Windhoek, the instructors Elna Mukasa and Beresford Groenewaldt related how seeing young people go from never having switched on a pc to confidently coding their own programmes, inspires them to do more.
“It’s the most incredible thing witnessing how our students grow and become more confident and creative with their robots and coding advance functional software,” said Mukasa , who manages the center and is responsible for the junior class of students.
Her colleague Beresford Groenewaldt, the Lead Instructor at the Robotschool, echoed these sentiments, stating that, “being able to see the children of the future become more and more equipped in front of you is inspiring and makes all the hard work, worthwhile.”
“While our programme is structured to over a 5-year curriculum, encompassing theory, robotics and coding, sometimes we just sit and build with the children, and it’s astounding to see what they come up with and how they find functional solutions to their design challenges that present themselves,”
One such solution was the smart sanitizer robot that greets you when entering their premises.
“This was built by an 11-year old student after a design challenge, and works perfectly,” said Groenewaldt, while pointing out some of the intricacies of “Jeff”, as the young inventor names most of his products.
Building the future
Using quite expensive Lego Robotic sets, the students learning mechanical design concepts, programming and social skills.
“We want to empower the children to now only understand the possibilities of hardware and software, but to also build their confidence and social skills, as the need for collaboration is a key to building a better, more inclusive and innovative society,” said Mukasa
Having grown over the years, the Robot School is now aiming to expand to other towns in the country, where development and access to these new types of learning are lacking.
“We want to not only branch out and reach more children, but we hope to one day reach a place where we can become a recognized training institution, where students can leave with a NQA-accredited qualification and either go into the market or use that as a stepping stone to access more educational opportunities,”
If you would like your child to have a head start in their technological education, make a point of it to contact the Robot School to learning more about how you can empower you children in the fields of robotics, coding, game-design and many other future-focused fields of study.
Classes are open to children from as young as 6, all the way up to 18 years of age. Lesson are bi-monthly and conducted in a safe, Covid-compliant set up.




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