A company that makes kits to teach schoolchildren how to build robots has won a start-up grant for its latest project.
Dawn Robotics, based in the Technology Business Incubator at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, won the funding from Jisc in a pitching contest.
Dawn Robotics director Alan Broun initially devised a cheap Raspberry Pi camera kit to help people learn how to build a robot which they then control with an app.
He hopes the grant will help him get the kit into schools and universities to help them teach programming skills.
Alan said: “The funding will enable us to refine our robot kit and produce a range of educational materials such as lesson plans and tutorials.
“This will become a valuable and useful resource for teachers in schools and universities who want to teach their students programming, robotics and electronics.”
Alan believes building robots is a more engaging and less daunting way to get people interested in programming.
“Programming can be a rather dry and abstract subject,” he said. “Robotics is a great way to show that digital programming can have real world effects.
“Students get quick feedback if their programs aren’t working and the debugging process is really aided by trying to solve questions like, ‘why is my robot driving into a wall?’ or ‘why is it turning the wrong way?’ Robotics and robot control is also a great area for exploring applied maths.”
The Raspberry Pi is a basic but powerful computer created to help kids learn programming.
The kit is available for sale on the Dawn Robotics website, with 700 sold already mainly to people doing it for fun or a hobby.
Owen White, one of the judges of the technology start-ups category in Jisc’s 2015 Summer of Student Innovation competition, said they impressed Alan had been selling the kit.
“That proves that the idea has broad appeal and he is capitalising on this by working with a number of universities that offer outreach programmes into colleges and schools,” he said.
Dawn Robotics will create lesson plans exploring different aspects of robotics to use alongside the kit.
Picture courtesy of Dawn Robotics