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Educational robots provide playful learning

by Fabrice Deblock

New way of teaching, educational robots are experiencing strong growth every year. From kindergarten to high school, they support students in their learning and are a fun teaching method.

Valued at $ 784 million in 2017, the global educational robot market is expected to reach $ 2.5 billion in 2025, continuing a compound annual growth rate of 16.4% between 2019 and 2026, according to a study by the firm. Verified Market Research studies.

Educational robotics can be described as a set of activities, programs and educational resources used in schools, colleges but also in high schools. Educational robots can be of several types: mobile robots, articulated robots and autonomous vehicles.

Since 2015, the “plan for digital in schools” of the National Education invites teachers to experiment, from the preparatory course, educational sessions relating to computer programming using programmable robots for example. The role of educational robots is not to replace teachers but to make the whole learning process more fun for pupils or students.

Thymio at the top of educational robots used in classrooms

According to a study carried out in 2018 by the Génération Robots site with a panel of 128 French-speaking education and digital players, the first robot used in classes is Thymio (26%), the open source educational robot created in 2008 at the Federal Polytechnic of Lausanne (EPFL).

Thymio is followed by the range of robots provided by Lego (WeDo, Mindstorms, Boost ea), up to 13%. Next come the BeeBot / BlueBot robots (8%) which move on the ground and offer the possibility of programming up to 40 movements. The mBot robots (8%), supplied by Makeblock, and the Ozobot robots (5%) bring up the rear.

In elementary and middle school, the two main languages ​​used are the graphical programming language Scratch (58%) and the visual programming language Blockly (42%). Scratch wins over Blockly because the Ministry of National Education has highlighted it through various publications. In third and high school, the top trio is made up of Arduino IDE (21%), Python (19%) and C / C ++ (10%), again according to the study carried out by Generation Robots.

Above all, motivate students

The reasons why teachers use robots in their classrooms are varied. The first of these is to motivate students, by offering them fun tools. The second is the willingness of the teaching staff to create challenges and projects. Without going so far as to organize a robot competition, which requires a high level of knowledge from participants, programming a robot and seeing it work is already a great achievement. Finally, teachers are looking, through educational robots, for a new way of teaching.

Winky, the little French robot made in Polytechnique

In France, the latest of educational robots is called Winky. The startup MainBot, which is at the origin, was born within the incubator of the École Polytechnique. MainBot aims to prepare children aged 5 to 12 for the world of tomorrow by teaching them programming and robotics.

A crowdfunding campaign, launched in mid-2019 on Ulule, enabled the development of the technology used by the Winky robot. The contributions of more than 4,000 families have indeed been instructive for the founders of the company, Boris Kesler and Amanda Ferreira, who are also husband and wife in life.

The company subsequently raised 1.3 million euros from 30 business angels. Among these investors is Bruno Maisonnier, the creator of the Nao and Pepper robots. Winky products are now distributed by FNAC, Amazon, Nature et Découvertes, Cdiscount and Boulanger.


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