Educational Technology (EdTech) improvements in recent years have been nothing short of astounding. The advancements in this discipline are enabling educators to provide exceptional learning experiences for today’s young minds, as they respond to a world that has to adapt its curriculum to include technology as a vital field of knowledge.
Idea Center, Phantom II Limited’s education arm, is at the forefront of this revolution and has been for the past 30 years, today selling in 20 countries worldwide with sales in excess of $30 million.
At the heart of Idea Center’s business philosophy is recognition of a need to create a learning environment that helps people to learn and understand robotics, particularly important with technology now accounting for most of the developments and changes in society. And within this pioneering sphere, the company is now offering its expertise to schools in the UAE, with Dr Nira Krumholtz, head of Idea Center, happy to work with individual schools and teachers to help students prepare for a rapidly changing technological world, including in the creative arts.Adding ‘A’ to STEM
“Once it was decided to add the A (Art) to STEM, ’Idea Center’ was set a challenge: to develop activities that would address the art dimension significantly to emphasise its importance and contribution. We looked for the best way to do this so it will be natural and not compulsory. Moreover, the activities had to be based on the learning model** that was developed and implemented in Idea Center,” Dr Krumholtz explains. Looking at the process of integrating computers in the education system, it is easy to distinguish between three steps that differ in the topics that are taught with computers:
- In stage one, the focus was on Maths and Science. Students learned to program their constructed models to perform tasks that were based on geometrical figures. The emphasis was on learning to program using the principles of computer science.
- Stage two focused on Engineering. The tasks required a solution that raised the need to design the structure of their model and its mechanism to perform the required task. It was then necessary to integrate studies of physics, mechanics (motion) and the field of mechanical engineering such as transmissions, torques, etc. The appearance of humanoid robots in recent years, and their reasonable price, has enabled the integration of robots into school’s computer labs.
- Out of this grew the third stage, AI and Machine Learning, treating robots as if they were human, focusing on the robots’ behaviour, their reactions, and interaction with people, and even interaction with other robots. “This approach elevates the artistic aspects and addresses issues such as music, directing, set design, movement, and choreography,” says Dr Krumholtz.
As an example of applying art in STEM, we can look at a task defined for students to perform in teams while addressing and integrating aspects from the field of art. In this instance, a Robo-Dance-Off Challenge, with Dr Krumholtz commenting: “We believe that this kind of approach makes it possible to prepare students to be ‘Netizens’ – users of tomorrow’s social networks, thus reducing the gap between the latest technologies in reality, and those implemented in the education system.”
“We believe that this kind of approach makes it possible to prepare students to be ‘Netizens’ – users of tomorrow’s social networks, thus reducing the gap between the latest technologies in reality, and those implemented in the education system”
Participants work in teams to program robots to perform a challenge. This challenge can be solved on various levels. For example:
- A simple level may be to program the robot or the Avatar, by directly moving its body parts.
- A complex level can be to program the robot using programming software to develop interactive decision-making algorithms.
- The focus of the challenge is more on the robot’s behaviour and less on its mechanism.
- The robots can participate in the challenge solution as the only actors presenting on stage; or, together with other team members to create a mixed team (students and robots) that will perform a team challenge.
- As with all Idea Center challenges, this challenge will be ‘multi-step, complex and open-ended’.
Extra Unique Learning Outcomes for this challenge:
- Understanding and experiencing Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
- Humanoid robotics communication and programming.
- Developing high order thinking skills, such as classifying and creating a taxonomy.
- Experience updated demands of coding and computerised thinking.
Teamwork Challenge – Robo-Dance-Off Challenge
The task is to use creative thinking and problem-solving skills to create unique choreography and program a ‘Meccanoid’ to perform in a dance-off in front of a live audience. Before Participating: Download the Meccanoid App and go over the tutorial. Those taking part can start practising their dance even before entering the booth. The only thing required is to arrive at the booth with the app installed on a mobile device.
One of Idea Center’s objectives is to deliver unequalled curriculum success throughout STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics)
- Appraisal – one minute. Participants watch the previous teams performing. The previous teams will perform their Humanoid Robot unique dance to the spectators. The cheers of the spectators will show who the most creative team is.
- Boot Camp – 13 minutes. The team will program their Meccanoid using the Ragdoll app and/or Learn Intelligent Movement (LIM) programming method, to perform a special dance.
- Performance – one minute. Each team will have one minute to demonstrate their Humanoid Robot special dance.
- Artificial Intelligence
- Machine Learning
- Robotics communication
- Robotics programming
- Computerised thinking
This is just one example of the myriad opportunities presented by Idea Center, a company that is pioneering the development of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and IoE software, which allows a robot to learn. A high-tech company, Idea Center creates advanced robotics software and curricula. When it comes to software development, it is at the very head of the line. This is what distinguishes it from the competition.
One of Idea Center’s objectives is to deliver unequalled curriculum success throughout STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), with an approach to teaching technology that allows the learner to experience technological activities and technological processes. Moreover, Dr Krumholtz can personally train educators to utilise its groundbreaking technology so that students can derive fun and fulfilment from learning sometimes challenging subjects.
“We can tailor-fit whatever the requirements of the school are in terms of a broad array of requirements, including budget,” Dr Krumholtz concludes.
** Krumholtz, N.:‘Simulating Technology Processes to Foster Learning’. The Journal of Technology Studies, vol. XXIV, Nov. 1, Winter/Spring 1998.