The use of robotics can be important in the education of children and teens —particularly in learning how to solve problems — according to co-founder of Rolling Robots, where students of various skill levels build robots.
Former Boeing engineer Bing Jiang spoke to a couple dozen people at the Glendale Central Library during the city's latest Tech on Tap event on Wednesday. Rolling Robots has a Glendale location and two other sites in the L.A. area.
Jiang said she's learned a lot from working with students as they build robotic creations during after-school programs, winter or summer camps or birthday parties. Some students go on to compete in robotics competitions.
The youngest students involved are 4 years old, and they learn "simple stuff," Jiang said, such as building electrical circuits.
Older students have built and programmed a Lego robot to solve a Rubik's cube, among other robots that solve complex tasks.
Speaking about some of the students she's met, Jiang learned several of their parents had previously tried to push them into playing a sport but were unsuccessful.
"Most of them are not exactly into sports," Jiang said.
Some of them also needed to learn how to work with other students, or they're shy and unsure about which aspect of the robot they should work on, whether building, programming or another component.
Some students only learn how to work together after confronting each other during arguments.
"Sometimes it's physical," Jiang said, jokingly. "We have to get that out of the way."
However, once the students are part of a team, they often excel, even if they endure huge setbacks, such as a motor stopping dead during a high-stakes competition.
"Although you're messing up, you can always pick up from where you are," Jiang said.