Mekamon: The gaming robot that can help to shape the future?
At a recent family trip to STEMfest, held at RS Components’ Northamptonshire HQ, there was one attraction that truly caught my eye. One product that had equal appeal to not only my 6 and 10-year-old daughters, but also my 9-year-old nephew (a hat-trick is no easy achievement!).
It is often difficult to keep a generation entertained that would rather be spending their time in front of their computer games or with an iPad glued to their hands. And it’s even harder when you’re trying to teach them something that may actually benefit their future (how boring).
However, the lethal combination of iPads and Gaming was exactly what attracted them to the MekaMon robot tent. Mekamon is a spider-like robot designed to battle others of its kind, or virtual enemies in augmented reality via a smartphone app. Think Pokémon in real life and you’re most of the way there.
When you consider that the World Economic Forum recently predicted that 65% of children entering primary school today will hold future jobs that don’t yet exist, it becomes apparent why this brainchild of Reach Robotics could be exactly the sort of education tool that our children need.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution will run on machines that use intelligent, cyber-physical systems to automate work processes and exchange communications. However it will still be people who will ensure that these smart factories run smoothly.
By introducing children to education using physical robots, coding education is placed in the direct context of its use in the future. This provides them with not only some fun on a Saturday afternoon, but challenges their creative curiosity and equips them with the skills required for a digital robotic future.
I was extremely impressed with how intuitive and easy to use the MekaMon robots were and just how much fun every child was having with them, learning and developing without thinking too much about it.
They were able to explore and experiment in drive mode, use the draw feature to create a line for the robot to follow, create and use custom animations to build a series of commands and even code using a familiar Scratch-based block system.
Entertain, Inspire, Educate.
After the event, I started to research these robots a little more to see where the idea came from and found a story that inspired me enough to buy one!Mekamon was the brainchild of Silas Adekunle, a 27-year-old who was born in Nigeria and moved to the UK at about 11 years old. He spent much of his childhood obsessed with science and technology, playing with Lego robot kits and watching YouTube videos to get ideas for simple robots he could build himself at home.
Following the hugely successful launch as the world’s first gaming robot with his company Reach Robotics, the decision was made that they could harness their learnings from the entertainment market to create a unified tool for STEM education. This means that they can bring robotics and gamification techniques into schools to raise engagement levels for all ages and levels of ability.
See for yourself in the video below…
Now I’m looking forward to receiving mine in the post… hurry up Royal Mail!