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Incorporating Maths, Physics, Engineering, Nature, Arts and Science
As a programmable building block kit that is tailored to STEM education, uKit allows students to easily access the programming world with its embedded APP dynamic instruction and hundreds of parts which can be easily combined into many different models. With project-oriented teaching techniques, visual programming, high-torque servos, and various sensors, uKit helps students to reach their potential by improving their abilities in critical thinking and creativity while simultaneously fuelling their interests in science and technology.
UBTech EDU robots are fun and easy to understand how to build and use. Although the instructions can only be found in a mobile app, they go in depth with their 3D instructions and example programs. Throughout the construction process, the app sends the occasional pop-up message complimenting the user, and encourages them to expand upon the instructions. This UBTech robot application is a very good place to get involved with robotics, mechatronics, and programming. UBTech do this via the “Maker” way. Students’ abilities in creating can be boosted through maker education, maker space and universe DIY. The main study fields UBTech are aimed at are Science & Society, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM). Throughout these study disciplines, students’ abilities in communication, hands-on work, logical thinking, and artistic perception are improved throughout building the robot with or without a group.
There are a huge range of robots from a simple rotating arm and moving animals, to mechanical arms that detect different coloured objects, and cars that traverse the land autonomously. You can even create your own robot from scratch. The app currently has robots for two different skill levels, with easy and hard robots in each category. In the ‘Entry’ skill level, there are choices from introductory robots that show and explain how different components are used. These robots are designed for kids of 8 to 10 years of age, of which focus on developing abilities in operation, innovation and coordination. The types of robots include simple rotating gates to making a robot walk. The entry level robots cover it all. In the ‘Advanced’ skill level, the robots increase in difficulty, but still have some easy designs that can be made. Designed for 11 to 12-year-old kids, the robots focus on developing abilities in comprehension, expression, an logical thinking. This section is also where sensors are introduced. They are used in building ‘smart castles’ to a mechanical arm that will only pick up black and white objects. ‘Ultimate’ skill level was unavailable at the time of creation. ‘My models’ section is for where you can save your own designs with a picture of your robot.
The contents of the case for the robot consisted of separate organized packets of pieces, and a tray to place the required pieces into. The separate packets comprised of connectors, building blocks, aesthetic pieces, servos, sensors, and wires. Having the pieces pre-arranged like this is extremely helpful when searching for the required pieces for your robot. In addition, it’s just as easy to pack up.
The mobile app can be downloaded from any device that can access Apple’s play store, or Android’s google play store. Suitable devices have iOS or Android operating systems, which excludes devices running a windows operating system. Despite the app being made for hand-held devices, most computers at schools have a windows operating system, meaning they cannot run the app without a means of sourcing the app via third-party processes.
The UBTech EDU mobile application has an easy to use interface design. Upon opening the app, you can choose a menu depending on your skill level, with a list of robots within each. Once a robot is selected, you are taken to a screen which contains tabs for information, building, programming, manual controller, and further knowledge. You then progress through each stage as detailed in the sections below. The manual controller interface consists of a d-pad styled joystick but with 360 degrees of rotation, with the additive options of sliders to control servos. This mobile app creates an easy and well-informed understanding of how basic mechanics and programming principles can be put in use.
The construction process of the robot consisted of finding and sorting the pieces, and the creation of the robot. Despite the pieces not having labels on them, the app referenced names. However, the pictures were enough to find which pieces were required for the build. This process can take up to half an hour for unexperienced creators on larger projects.
Creating the robot is the easiest, but longest part of the whole project. Large projects undertaken solo can take one and a half hours. The 3D modelled instructions are extremely useful when building as you can rotate and zoom the model. In addition, the model also animates the pieces connecting, so you can see exactly where pieces are meant to connect to. Most projects are divided into modules. Furthermore, modules can be skipped for extra parts, or design variations can be more easily implemented. For bigger projects, there are not a lot of connector pieces left, so big design additions may not be plausible. Smaller additions, such as a car spoiler, are easy to design, build, and combine to the project.
The programming user interface is very user friendly and simple to learn. The main programming method is the drop and drag system. Each block of code can be easily found in the sorted menu. If you are unsure or confused about a block of code, the help menu explains in detail what each block of code does. It is just as easy to try out what each feature does and learn from seeing it in action. This method more so applies to testing what the aesthetic parts of the robots can do. To change the variables associated with the sensors and lights, the device used for programming must be connected to the robot with the electrical components already attached. The robot must also be connected to test and run the program. In addition to the simple programming methods, there are already default programs loaded into the app that can help guide you in the right direction. At any time, you can view what the drop and drag blocks look like as actual code. This can further their knowledge of how programming works and the basic terminology used in a majority of programming languages, although they cannot directly edit the written code. Programming the robots may take up to 30 minutes for users with basic programming knowledge.
If a group is planning to undertake a single project, multiple devices with the app is recommended. Due to the fact the app can only be used by one person at a time. The designers, builders, and programmers rely
on each other’s development stages to progress in their own section. The programmer can’t modify code referring to the electronics, unless it is connected to the robot. Similarly, the builder can’t build the robot without the instructions from the designer. The app currently does not support exporting programs, so only the programmer’s device can be used to control the robot. Overall, these robots are simple projects that can be learned and mastered in an afternoon. The UBTech app is a great way to start learning about programming and can be used for education, and as a hobby. At the end of a project you can expect to understand basic mechanics, and programming principles. This knowledge will create a foundation for expanding your knowledge throughout your schooling career.
✓ Piece Sorting: 0h 35m | ✓ Construction: 1h 30m | ✓ Programming: 0h 30m | ✓ Total Time: 2h 35m