The year was 1998…On a cold, gloomy January day; the world changed forever with presentation of the very first LEGO MINDSTORMS brick at the London Museum of Modern Art. Part LEGO piece and part programmable interface; in one fell swoop this small device placed easy robotics development in the hands of children and adults around the world.
The ripple effect from this invention was more than most people could imagine at the time. Although primitive by today's standards, this "intelligent brick" became the building block for further innovation by regular, everyday people - most of them kids who've found a new way to pass their time.
More than a Hobby
In less than two decades, personal robotics has become a mainstream hobby, with thousands of kits available for purchase. Though most adults don't have time to tinker around with robot kits, the rising demand comes from parents who purchase these kits for their kids. And there are several reasons why parents choose robotics kits over other toys. For example;
o Robot kits are intellectually stimulating: Instead of playing violent video games, kids spend time learning about electronics and the basic steps involved in programming a robot. Many kits will have several different challenges laid out in the instruction manual to get the child thinking about how to solve problems, which helps them develop logic and creative thinking abilities.
o Robot kits teach perseverance: There's not much instant gratification with a robot kit, because it often takes time to build an interesting robotic creation. Beginner kits may take just a few minutes of course, but more advanced assemblies may take several days or even weeks. This teaches a child patience - a life skill absolutely vital for success as an adult, regardless of career choice.
o A simple way to build a stable hobby: Parents don't need to constantly think about how to constructively occupy their child's time. If your child becomes interested in robotics with a simple, beginner kit, you'll have a great selection of other robot kits to buy to increase the difficulty and learning experience. From simple insect robots, to robot cars, and even programmable rovers; the possibilities are endless.
o Preparing for a future career: Our society is quickly headed into development of personal robots that will become part of our daily lives. By learning basic robotics early on, a child can develop real skills that can serve as building blocks for a future career in technology or engineering.
Though robotics is still in the early stages of development, children who have access to kits will likely have an advantage in their future careers. Just like those who grew up with a personal computer at home in the 1980's and 1990's had an edge in college and in the workforce; the kids who grow up actively using robots today will have an edge in their future careers, too. After all, many of the major successful software and internet companies were founded by college kids who simply had the benefit of learning a new technology early in their lives.