The micro:Maqueen, provided by DFRobot, is a graphical programming robot that is designed specifically for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education for primary age students, from the age of eight upwards. The robot helps students learn how to use graphical programming in an entertaining and engaging manner. The programming kit incorporates playability and simplicity to ensure a fun and simple introduction to coding and wider STEM concepts for young minds.
The robot itself is miniature in size, allowing for cost-effectiveness and versatility – it also makes it perfect for little hands to navigate. The Maqueen robot kit comes with a number of features such as flexible movement, a metal miniature gear motor, LED and ambient lights and an ultrasonic interface, amongst other things. These features allow for greater creativity in lessons, as well as making the kit more dynamic in nature.
Students are able to build their own miniature Maqueen robot and then program it to perform various actions of their choice. This allows them to not only gather a first-hand insight into coding but also offers them a fun introduction to engineering. Through utilising learning through play principles in their STEM education, students can be taught complex ideas in a more practical and engaging manner.
The kit is specifically designed to stimulate creativity and curiosity. The breathing ambient light included in the kit, displays a variety of colours and presents a gradient effect, whilst the LED lights and buzzers capture the students’ imagination through a mixture of sound and visual effects. The robot is also able to respond to light in different ways; it can be programmed to stop moving in darker light and the vehicle’s speed can then be programmed to accelerate once the light is increased. This helps demonstrate the practical and multi-faceted uses of programming.
The little robot also utilises ultrasound to teach students about ultrasonic distance. After programming, the robot is able to make the ultrasound sensors sense the obstruction in front of the robot and the distance in centimetres is then displayed on the dot-matrix screen on the front of the robot. The robot can then use the ultrasound to avoid obstacle as it moves – if it senses that an obstacle is less than, for instance, 35cm (the figure can be varied by coding) in front of it, then the robot will make the decision to turn left or right to avoid these obstacles.
Similarly, the kit provides students with an understanding of infrared key assignments. The infrared key assignments can be displayed by pointing the remote toward the robot and pressing the digits, pupils can code their robot to the display the number on the robot’s dot matrix. These are just a few of the STEM skills that can be taught through the Maqueen robot kit.
The programming robot uses micro:bit technology as it allows for ease of use and is widely available, with many primary schools already owning their own free BBC micro:bit. This also means that it is far more affordable for users. The micro:bit computer chip enables greater flexibility and creativity for students as it is small, powerful and simple to use.
The Maqueen micro:bit robot is a great addition to the classroom and has been created to give all students the best introduction to STEM learning. We believe the key to inspiring children is through creativity and play, and the Maqueen kit incorporates both of these concepts – their only limits will be their imaginations.