FIRST Robotics: Raising Visionaries and Innovators

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg – they are the digital visionaries of our generation.  Aside from being successful innovators in the field of technology and being among the world’s most famous billionaires, they all have another thing in common – All of them were trained through STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Education.

STEM Education is what FIRST Robotics wants to emphasize in its programs that focus on robotics literacy.  FIRST Robotics is the country’s pioneering center in the field of robotics.   It uses state-of-the-art materials that allow children to design, build, and program robots.  Children as young as 4 learn to be creative and resourceful in a fun learning environment.

Age-Appropriate Programs for Future Innovators

FIRST Robotics has age-appropriate programs that enhance skills, encourage learning, and foster hard work.

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Kids age 4 – 6 are taught basic building concepts that develop their fine motor skills and enhance their creativity.  At FIRST Robotics, they also discover how people, animals, and things move then they learn how to build their own models of these.   For this age group, LEGO Duplo is used.

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For kids age 7 – 8, LEGO WeDo is used to introduce young kids to information and control technology (ICT).  They learn how to make inanimate objects move using basic visual programming.  They build models of animals and things using sensors and other mechanical parts then use a drag-and-drop software to make their models react to stimuli and move.

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More advance concepts are taught to kids age 9 and older using LEGO MindStorms.  At this stage, kids are not only able to build their own robots but are also able to design their own programs to control the robot’s movements. They are given the challenge of designing, building, and programming robots that perform specific functions such as going through various obstacle courses or doing useful tasks.

Make Dreams Come True

Most of us have had grand dreams when we were very young. We dreamed of becoming astronauts, scientists, and inventors. Unfortunately, not all of us are given the resources to put these dreams into reality, especially those of my generation when technology was still limited.

Fortunately, there are now plenty of opportunities for our children that aid them in fulfilling their own dreams.  As parents, we must strive to provide them the means to grab these opportunities and to encourage them to work hard for their dreams to come true.

Make your little one’s dreams come true and bring them to  the place

“where fun learning rules”!

For more information about the programs being offered by FIRST Robotics, visit their website at www.FIRSTRobotics.ph or check out their Facebook page at First Robotics Learning Center.

To read about my kids’ fun learning day at FIRST Robotics, visit Taking Legos to The Next Level at First Robotics.

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Taking Legos to the Next Level at FIRST Robotics

Books, building blocks, musical toys, board games, and sports equipment – these are the only things my children are allowed to play with during weekdays.  Call me old-fashioned but I’d rather my kids play with the games I used to play than spend all their spare time with their faces plastered on digital screens. Among those I’ve mentioned, books and building blocks are their most favorite.  They can spend hours reading a book or building whatever their imagination wills them to.

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4-year-old Jakei fascinated with the pulley we built together. 🙂

This is also why I signed up for the FIRST Robotics event organized by the Mommy Bloggers of the Philippines last August (yes, this is a superduper late post! wondermama was not so wonder-y the past weeks).  What better way to spend the weekend than learning how to build robots!  So cool!

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Upon arriving, we were ushered to the waiting area for kids.  In here, kids can play with LEGOs while waiting for their classes to start.  There’s a separate waiting area for parents in the lobby but since we were there to learn more about FIRST Robotics, we were allowed to stay inside the rooms.

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Before the trial classes began, we were given a short presentation about what First Robotics has to offer. Read all about it at FIRST Robotics: Raising Visionaries and InnovatorsAfter the briefing, we were led to the different rooms.  Each age group has its own room where age-appropriate materials are provided. Those age 4 – 6 use LEGO Duplo to develop their fine motor skills. Age 7 – 8 kids learn how to use basic visual programming using LEGO WeDo. Those who are age 9 and older are taught how to create their own functional robots using LEGO MindStorm.

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Although they were only one year apart, my two kids belonged to different age brackets and had to stay in different rooms. I chose to stay with Jakei knowing that Jade would be able to manage on her own. So off Jade went to the World of Science and Technology room while Jakei and I went to the World of Adventures and Inventions.

Jakei’s FIRST Moving Lego Robot

Since Jakei has been very adept at building LEGO models on his own at home, I didn’t assist him that much during his class.  Their lesson started with a short story about two friends who were playing hockey and who needed another player for their team.  Building this players became the task of Jakei and the other kids. They had to build a hockey player that had a movable arm for hitting the puck into the goal.

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After successfully building their robots, the kids tested them out through a fun competitive game of hockey.

My Jakei had fun during the game and, thankfully, did not throw a fit when he lost. I think having been able to build a robot with moving parts made him a winner already.

Jade’s FIRST Shot at Programming

After Jakei’s game, I checked on Jade in the 7-8 class.  They were almost finished with their robots when I came.  I was amazed that the kids were able to build their robots with minimal supervision. They were using the LEGO WeDo software that provided step-by-step instructions.  What was even more amazing was that they were able to program their robots using basic visual programming.

Watching my daughter’s eyes sparkle with excitement when her crocodile moved and made a sound was such a sight to behold.

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Free Trial Classes at FIRST Robotics

Lego + Robots + Kids = FUN FUN FUN!  

We definitely loved our experience at FIRST Robotics!  What’s not to love with learning being so much fun?! If you have kids age 4 to 16, I encourage you to enrol them in one of the programs at FIRST Robotics. Call (02)696-3333 to schedule a free trial class or visit their website at http://www.firstrobotics.ph/ for more information.

In FIRST Robotics, children become leaders not followers, problem solvers not whiners, and builders not daydreamers. And what parent wouldn’t want their children to become those. 😉

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To know more about First Robotics, read FIRST Robotics: Raising Visionaries and Innovators.

 

3 Skills Kids Learn Through Pretend Play

When we hear of the word “play”, we often associate it with engaging games of tag, sports activities, or physical exploration of environments. Physical play, though, is just one of many types of play that children engage in. There’s Constructive Play where kids learn to create things using blocks, clay, and other manipulatives. Competitive Play where they pit their skills with others and learn how to be true sportsmen.  Then there’s also Pretend Play.

In Pretend Play, kids assign roles and act them out. They pretend to be someone, or even something, else. As their imaginations come to life, kids develop a myriad of skills. They become creative, insightful, and well-rounded individuals.

Skills Learned Through Pretend Play

During Pretend Play, kids learn how the world works and how adults interact. Their gross and fine motor skills are also developed. Aside from these, here are three more skills kids learn and develop through pretend play:

Language Skills. Pretend Play encourages expressive language. When playing with others, kids learn that words give them the power to re-enact stories or create entirely out-of-this-world ones. Oftentimes, they use the words they hear from the ones closest to them so don’t be surprised to hear your own words (might be even in a perfectly good impersonation of you!) during their play.

Thinking Skills. There’s really more to Pretend Play than “just playing pretend”. Kids learn to solve problems, organize and plan activities, retell familiar stories, and apply gained knowledge. Their imagination, which is an important building block for learning, is greatly enriched.

Social-Emotional Skills. While creating their make-believe scenario, kids learn to cooperate and to negotiate in their role playing. They learn to take turns and share. Sometimes, they also learn how to deal with disappointment. While they pretend to be someone else, they also develop a sense of self and individuality. As they discover themselves and their capabilities, their self-esteem then increases allowing them to confidently interact with others.

How To Nurture Their Imagination

Allow Them To Create Their Own Scenario. The best stories unfold when children are given a freehand on who they want to be and where they want the stories set. It’s perfectly fine to be Batman riding a horse with Sheriff Callie while exploring a new red moon in outer space. Their pretend world is as vast as their imagination, give them complete control over it and watch them develop story lines a thousand times more interesting than your favorite stories.

Provide Props and Costumes. Dress up costumes from Smiffys would be wonderful but even old clothes would do. Kitchen sets, Doctor kits, Shop stands, and other toys help make pretend play more realistic. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg in props though. Even ordinary household items can be used in Pretend Play. In our home, a blanket becomes a tent, the stairs a mountain to climb, our chairs obstacles in a grand adventure. Empty boxes turn into airplanes, or boats, or cars, or rockets, or whatever else is needed for the kids’ imaginary kingdom.

Play With Them. Playing with your kids is a two-way learning process. From you, they learn how to communicate, interact, and rationalize. You, on the other hand, can learn to understand your kids more. You can even discover a few things about yourself too as kids are wont to mirror their parents’ behavior. So, next time your kids run to you asking you to be the High Queen in their kingdom, stop for awhile and play with them. Just a few minutes of your time is forever for them. Know that “play” for them is not just play – it’s a learning process.

Kids Summer Camp 2015 at AMBAY Beach Resort

Summer’s never complete without a trip to the beach.  For most kids, the best trips are those where they get to  have fun with other kids, too.  Which is why we’re not missing this year’s Kids’ Camp in Ambay Beach Resort.

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Want to know what to expect?  Click here to check my post about the very first Ultimate Summer Camp at Ambay last year.  This year’s camp is bound to be so much more fun so do come join us. Leave your worries (and gadgets!) at home and just enjoy the beach!

For inquiries, send an email to ambaybeachresort@gmail.com, call 0920-902-0860, or visit the Ambay Beach Resort Facebook Page. Limited rooms are available for the Kids Camp so book your room now. 🙂

 

 

Click here to read about our first vacation at AMBAY.

Kid Recommended Mom Approved Movies Based On Books

The kids’ summer lessons won’t be starting until mid-April, so we’ve been bonding over movies (lots of ’em) the past couple of weeks. Since we’re also book lovers, we’ve been watching several movies that are based on novels we love. Here’s our list of Kid-Recommended Mom-Approved Movies Based on Books:

Chronicles of Narnia

Since 2005, Walden Media has released three film adaptations of the Chronicles of Narnia.  This is a series of seven novels written by C.S. Lewis.  We have a collection of the entire series and have already read the Magician’s Nephew, The Horse and His Boy, and The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe.  Their familiarity with the characters and the stories are partly why the kids love the movies. Only three novels have been adapted into movies though:  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian (Jade’s fave), and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Jakei’s fave).

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The stories revolve around the Pevensie children and their adventures in Narnia – a world created by Aslan, a powerful and wise lion. There’s fantasy, adventure, mythical creatures, captivating scenes – just what every child wants in a movie!

Bridge to Terabithia

Being one of my favorite books, Bridge to Terabithia was among the very first chapter books I read to my two little ones.  They love the book but they love the movie even more.  Jade says that the movie is “really good” and she loves “the wild imagination of Leslie and Jesse.” Jakei likes “the boy because he is good”.

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In this movie, the life of Jesse Aarons is transformed when he becomes friends with Leslie Burke.  Together they create a magical forest kingdom and call it Terabithia. My kids can totally relate to both Jesse and Leslie as they also have wild imaginations and often create their own make-believe kingdoms.

City of Ember

This science fiction film starring Bill Murray is based on a 2003 novel by Jeanne DuPrau.  The story is set centuries from today in a dying underground city called Ember.  With power and  supplies including food about to run out and the city’s structure about to collapse,  two young adults find a way out.  Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow bravely stand against a corrupt mayor and face various obstacles in their quest for a safe way out of Ember.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

If my memory serves me right, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was the very first chapter book that Jade managed to read on her own.  Since that first Roald Dahl book, she has read half a dozen more of his fantasticilicious stories.  Well, it’s no surprise that she and her brother love the movie adaptation of the Chocolate Factory.

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The film version that my kids saw was the one starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka.  I’d still love for them to watch Gene Wilder’s version of Willy Wonka though. 🙂

 

Wizard of Oz

Now who doesn’t know this wonderful novel written by L.Frank Baum? It may have been written a century ago but it still remains popular generation after generation.  Proof of this is the many adaptations, both on stage and in the widescreen, that have sprung from the story.

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After watching Judy Garland as Dorothy, you may want to watch the Disney adaptation Oz the Great and Powerful.

Oz the Great and Powerful

The story is set 20 years before the original story of the Wizard of Oz. In this adaptation, we learn how Oscar Diggs (portrayed by the dashing James Franco) came to be the Wizard of Oz.  We also find out that the Wicked Witch of the West wasn’t so wicked before.

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Michelle Williams who plays Glinda the Good Witch of the South also plays the role of Annie who would eventually become the mother of Dorothy Gale.  Now, I’m hoping they would do a re-make of the Wizard of Oz.  Just imagine how amazing the visual effects would be with all the technology available now.

These are just the ones we have recently watched.  Among those that the kids have already seen and loved are the Harry Potter series (strictly parental guidance though as the kids have plenty of questions about the characters and the events), Alice in Wonderland, Forrest Gump (strictly parental guidance also and you may want to skip some scenes involving Jenny), and Matilda. I’m sure there are plenty more but my memory fails me. 😛

Then there are also those that we have yet to see but are definitely in my list: Oliver TwistCharlotte’s WebThe Jungle BookTo Kill A Mockingbird, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, James and the Giant Peach.

How about you and your kids?  What movies do you love and recommend? Would love to read about your mom approved movies, too.