San Diego's Robolink Teaches Kids How to Engineer Drones

The educational program intends to imbue students with skill sets applicable to the real world and the ever-increasing technological job market.

Robolink

San Diego-based education and technology company Robolink is in the business of teaching students from kindergarten through 12 grade about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) related subjects, such as building and programming robots like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). These kids have the option of choosing between three courses: RoKit Smart, which teaches them how to build 11 kinds of robots; CoDrone, which teaches them how to build and program various drones; and Vex IQ, which preps the students for an international robotics competition.

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, 13-year-old Morgan La France has already learned more than most kids her age when it comes to operating and programing UAVs. “We spent a couple of hours (programming drones) to tell it an action like flying up, or maneuvering side to side,” she said. “At my school it’s not like [Robolink]. You don’t program. We just do block programming.” 

The "block programming" Morgan is referring to is a very primitive way of programming robotics software—a basic drag-and-drop instructional method, which doesn’t challenge kids enough to further their programing abilities beyond the rudimentary. According toThe San Diego Union-Tribune, students at the Robolink program learn far more sophisticated methods, such as coding a UAVs with the Arduino language. This is meant to translate to real-life scenarios in the outside world, and help them expand their skill-set beyond the classroom. Have a look at this introductory video of the school's learning center, courtesy of Robolink.

“There are actual companies using (Arduino). Technology is getting more advanced and incorporated into many areas. It’s good to know how these things work,” Grace Suh, Robolink’s administrative manager, said. The program that Suh manages is intended to engage kids at a young age, teach them the value of solving problems and cooperating with one another, and get them to focus on programming.

Apparently, engaging kids in drone programming is paying off handsomely. The Goodwood Festival of Speed is keen on bringing these teaching tools to schools across the UK and Europe. The Aerial Sports League has had more than 600,000 visitors, many of them eager children. Robolink is having similar progress in this regard, successfully converting kids from passive observers to active participants, with broadened skill sets that can be applied in the real world. 

“We’re growing worldwide. Teachers are using our kits in Australia, the United Kingdom, Korea and China,” Robolink CEO Hansol Hong said