An Ontario company is using robots to teach Hamilton elementary school kids real-world skills.

The Ontario Youth Mind Building Company is a not for profit organization that has developed a robotics program that allows students to build their own robots.

The goal of OYMBC is to engage students in science, technology, engineering, and math through a mixture of different programming, geared towards students between the ages of 6-12.

Designing, building, programming, and playing with various robots give students an opportunity for hands-on learning.

The classes work on a trial and error model, with students having the mission of completing different games and challenges, helping to develop problem solving and creative thinking.

ii-robotics

A robot kit, ordered from Korea. (Courtesy of: Nicki Ho)

Matthew Koo, regional manager for the Hamilton locations, says that their program is unique because there isn't a lot of instruction from the teachers.

"We talk at most, for three minutes. We assign a project and issue a challenge, and the kids have to complete the challenge," says Koo. "They have to problem solve themselves, and there is different paths you can choose. Every path they choose will lead to a different outcome, and no two kids will end up with the same robot."

The goal from there is to find the best path, and determine why it was the most effective.

Through doing this, students learn the technical skills of inertia, mass, and acceleration.

Robot gladiator battles

Nicki Ho, teacher and volunteer for the OYMBC, travels around Hamilton to direct robotics classes, aiding her students in the build of the 'bots.

"The program is student-centered and the teacher is merely facilitating the students … they build confidence in problem solving independently," says Ho.  "For example, one week they were to build a gladiator and battle with each other.  The gladiator who lost the least amount of pieces won.  Then they were to go back to make their gladiators stronger for the next battle."

According to Ho, the life skills learnt in robotics are motor skills, patience, and skill sequential planning.

OYMBC is currently in nine schools in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, and 15 schools from Toronto to Hamilton. Summer camps are available in Hamilton this year for the first time, and interested parents can get more information at www.oymbc.com.

"The kids get to learn complicated things through basic methods," says Koo. "They build robots and find problems along the way."