Hi! I’m Sojeong Lee from South Korea, and I’m currently a member of FTC Team Shatterdome. One of our team’s major outreach activities is promoting robotics and FTC through volunteering work. Every once in a while, we visit Samsung Seoul Hospital’s Children Cancer Center and introduce robotics to the children there. We offer mini-robotics classes in a small school that is run by the hospital.
We planned three activities: demonstrating our last FTC season’s robot, making simple robots, and flying drones. The purpose of our robot demonstration was to promote our team and the FTC. We hoped that we could implant a dream for robotics by introducing the competition to the children. After the demonstration, we let them make their own small robots. We bought small and easy robot kits for each of them. Although the kits were simple, it could have been a great chance for the children to take a quick glance at what robotics is like. The last activity was flying drones. For safety reasons, we couldn't allow the students control the drones, but the drones could show them how robotics is applied in our everyday life. At the end of each class, we distributed small presents, such as our team badge and cute bracelets.
Before our first visit to the hospital, we were not sure if we have the ability to teach young children. For me, I was not confident with taking care of younger kids. For another team member, he was not sure if he could clearly explain the activities to the students. Overall, our common concern was children not having interest in the activities that we prepared. Since robotics is not a widely spread subject in Korea, we were afraid that the children might not pay much attention to our classes. On the other hand, we were also excited by the fact that we can spread robotics in Korea, so we prepared hard to make our classes as meaningful and as interesting as possible.
When we arrived at the hospital, we were surprised by a warm welcome that we received from the children. They were eager to learn something from us. They were curious and passionate. When making small robots, one student finished one robot and asked us for another kit. Although the class was over, he stayed in the classroom until he finished making the robot. There was also a child who was a drone expert. He knew more about the drones than us!
After two visits to the Children Cancer Center, we realized that we were paying too much attention to the stereotypes of our country. Children’s passion towards robotics helped us recognize that we were the ones who were placing ourselves in the stereotype that Korean society is ignorant and indifferent to robotics. Interests and demands for robotics exist in Korea. By sharing our activities with the children, we could see the bright future of robotics in Korea.
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