(May 10, 2022)
In January 2022, our Club's Past President Chase Thacker became a manager for the Palos Verdes center of Rolling Robots at 704 Bart Earle Way (http://rollingrobots.com). He displayed 4 robots of variable sophistication (assisted by our Club President Steve Johnson & daughter) made by their students, and demonstrated the robots' operation.
Rolling Robots was founded by aerospace engineers to teach children an interesting approach to learning STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) by designing and building their own robots. There are several centers in Southern California. They have 6 age groups from Pre-K through College, using hardware kits and other materials produced by VEXRobotics (https://www.vexrobotics.com/), a brand of Information International.
The beginning group (ages 4-5) starts by learning basic knowledge of computer logic and commands. Programming commands are taught by choosing and moving multiple colored blocks on a screen. Eventually they learn different coding languages, electronics, circuit building and then programming hardware with Micro:Bit. They learn to combine the power of coding with circuitry and sensors to make games and gadgets, with progressive levels of sophistication including various types of robots, either driving them or programming them to move on their own (such as making them toss a ball into a container). They design robots with specified characteristics to engage in robotics game competitions, some of which have been featured on television programs.
Parents can create an account online to get started and get their children enrolled in age-appropriate classes and track their progress, comment on lessons, and ask questions. Girls are encouraged to become familiar with STEM activities. Summer courses are available, and teams can enter into national competitions. (Sounds like a good background for applying to engineering school.)