Teaching robots through play, the new goal of Proyecto Puente to narrow the digital divide – ADNSUR

A boy builds a windmill with a motor so it can spin. He looks at it, analyzes it, thinks about it and Eureka! Expected. For those who have read this history it may seem to make sense. However, there is an essential detail: the boy is only 9 years old.

The scene happens At the Pointe Project workshopWhere the NGO started recycling old computers, Take a robotics course for kidsa project aimed at shortening the digital divide and teaching children those tools that will be needed in the near future.

Today, the various industries in Argentina are already immersed in this type of process and this can be seen in a pharmacy in Comodoro, where The robot is responsible for stock control in the warehouseeven in the oil industry, where the well controls its operation thanks to programming and robotics.

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that it It’s the second trial session It is this kind that is organized by Puente. The first was a summer activity he did at the Comodoro Conocimiento agency, thanks to the support of Pan American Energy, which bought Lego sets that allow learning through play.

At that first opportunity, 22 boys, ages 9 to 15, participated in this course 19 participants, ranging in age from 9 to 13 years. The decrease in quantity and age is not random, but is intended to improve learning in boys.

“This is the most basic level,” he explains. Marcelo Dos Santos, co-founder and benchmark of Puente. “The idea is to do an intermediate course and later an advanced course, but to get an intermediate you must first do two basic workshops To be able to get the flow of men. The truth is, the outreach to the community is very good, and the enrollments we’ve launched have all been covered, but our expectation is to continue through the year and start engaging with schools,” he progresses.

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Courses dictated by the facilitatorsComodoro professionals who have joined this non-profit association with the goal of collaborating in reducing this digital divide. They are Mauricio Macretti, Lydia, Alberto, Pedro and Juan, and they assist the boys during each semester, as they seek to teach through play.

“We rely on STEM education, where the facilitator tries to guide him in the subject so that he also learns about science and mathematics,” explains McCarty. “It’s not just about giving him a robot. We also associate it with something new which is project based learning, which is PBL, So if you add the two together, kids learn in record time and we also achieve what we aim for: shortening the digital divide.”

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For “El Tano,” the city’s famous photographer and sound engineer, it’s about Teaching in another way targets the visual and the sensory. “When a boy can touch it and feel it, he has another concept, he experiences it and when you let the boy try, touch, measure, you realize he learns much faster than one might think,” he explains.

A small robot that is directed by a computer and performed by a child.

This technology applied to education has been around for 35 years, McCarty says, but he stresses it “You have to try to get to the boys as fast as you canAs Dos Santos says, these concepts are used in PLC (Programmable Logic Controller, for its English acronym), automation that has already reached various industries around the world.

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“This is the beginning, the kids who learn this progress through a process to be able to program a PLC, which is one of the things that the industry needs in the electronic part, because the truth is that Today there is a lot of talk about robots because they are fashionable, but little work is being done. So the idea is to open the minds of boys so that they start to understand how the world of robotics and automation works, and reach all schools.”

Dos Santos knows what he’s talking about. He has worked in the oil industry for years and has built up large networks of contacts through Puente. That is why he does not doubt what he says. “Today the biggest problem facing the industry is the lack of qualified personnel And this was not done in the last year of high school; We are convinced that you should learn this from the first class. So our idea is to invest today in a project that will work 12 years from now, when these kids have left high school knowing how to code, knowing robotics, and they can join any company or go on to university knowing everything. “

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As he speaks, McCarty listens and insists on a concept. “The goal is for the kid to see this today and get hooked on programming as quickly as possible, because before long anyone in any kind of job is going to need some of this.”

The boys are fascinated by every discovery.
The boys are fascinated by every discovery. “It’s a way of learning through play,” says McCarty.

Courses, for now, are paid, but Puente’s goal is that they are free and reach children from all schools. For this reason, they are looking for a sponsor and a venue that will allow them to conduct these workshops on an ongoing basis, with two hour meetings per week.

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“It’s part of the project,” says dos Santos. “Bridging the digital divide not only helps kids put together machines or software, It is also the robotics or the 3D effect project that we have to recover the bottles and create glasses with a 3D printer. The boys’ heads are exploding with this, they get excited, it’s tremendous and they want to keep learning,” he says excitedly.

“They are nine-year-olds,” McCreatty adds with relief, describing. In the second semester of the workshop they have already begun We talk about actuators and sensors And in the third they are already starting to talk about programs and blocks, and they are discovering them and asking questions, because we let them motivate themselves and discover. We are there just to show them what’s wrong, not to fully teach them, but to find out why the motor is spinning twice or why it is spinning 5%.”

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The facilitators are professionals from different disciplines who joined as volunteers with the aim of bridging this digital divide.
The facilitators are professionals from different disciplines who joined as volunteers with the aim of bridging this digital divide.

The workshop is coming to an end, and the boys are still having fun gathering and thinking about their robot. Many hours have passed since Saturday, the day when they must leave school but choose to continue learning through play, in this new project by Puente, the association that started to take computers out of the trash and after 14 years, with a 52-person team, It continues to grow with thousands of donations, educational projects, and a specific and supportive goal: shortening the digital divide.

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