Low Cost Educational Robotics Toy (LCERT)
AFFORDABLE EDUCATIONAL STEM RESOURCES FOR EVERY CLASSROOM
LACK OF ACCESS TO QUALITY STEM EDUCATION
The greatest social issue affecting the next generation of South Africa, Africa and the rest of the developing world is the lack of access to quality education. Resources that may be used to demonstrate theoretical STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) concepts to learners are not readily available, and accessible to learners who need them in the developing world. This is mainly because there is a lack of affordable educational solutions on the market.
As rocket scientists from underprivileged backgrounds, we at CRSP dsgn, realised how important it was to bring an affordable and disruptive product like the Low Cost Educational Robotics Toy (LCERT) to life, in order to better the lives of the next generation of creators and innovators in the developing world.
STARTING AT THE BASICS OF ELECTRONICS
The LCERT is essentially a reusable user configurable modular robotics kit which enables learners to design, assemble and program a number of different robotics and mechatronic systems for various applications. These hardware elements comprise of various electronic modules with unique functions, such as LEDs, power supplies, sensors, motors, and controller modules, to name a few.
The controller electronic module has an Arduino-based micro-controller, which is reprogrammable using a number of open source IDEs. This rest of the electronic modules may be connected to the controller module in order to create a robot or other mechatronic systems. Alternatively, these basic electronic modules were designed to be easily configurable into chain assemblies to form basic electronic circuits without any need for programming.
LEVERAGING CUTTING-EDGE OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE
Open source software called Ardublockly is bundled for free with the kit, in order to facilitate programming of the Arduino-based controller module. Ardublockly is a VPL (visual programming language) based on Blockly, which enables learners to learn how to code by dragging and dropping blocks of code on a GUI (Graphical User Interface).
In it's open source current form, Arduino is primarily compatible with desktop based operating systems, but CRSP dsgn is currently investing in further development to port Ardublockly to Android devices in order to achieve easier integration with learners in South Africa. With the added compatibility with Android, LCERT will be able to leverage the current roll-out of Android tablets to learners in public schools in South Africa.
ENHANCING THE CLASSROOM WITH CURRICULUM BASED ACTIVITIES
The activities that accompany the LCERT hardware and software are designed to enhance the existing curriculum of each education institution. Our system was designed to be easily integrateable with the available smart infrastructure in developing schools in South Africa, such as Android tablets. The Department of Basic Education (DBE), IEB (Independent Education Board), learning institutions, and educators will be able customise their LCERT activities in order to achieve higher levels of learning amongst their learners, own curricula and learning outcomes. The activities included with the LCERT kit may be performed by a group of up to 3 learners.
The LCERT marries hardware and software to achieve the goal of educating grade 4-9 learners about software and mechatronics (i.e. mechanical and electronics) concepts. LCERT aims to revolutionise STEM education in South Africa, and the rest of Africa by levelling the playing field for African learners and educators.