12 AUGUST 2022

With the rise of technology in the current digital age, Robotics and Coding Enrichment Programmes have become a hot topic among parents.

Although the terms ‘Robotics and Coding’ are often used together, they are sometimes wrongly used interchangeably. So what exactly are the differences between the two?

Robotics vs Coding

Although Robotics and Coding are similar, the main difference between the two is that Coding is mainly based on software, whereas Robotics is a combination of software and hardware.

We are experiencing a shift from computer literacy to computing literacy.

Alan YongChief Executive, Nullspace Robotics

Coding for Kids

The majority of coding software for young kids typically involves a graphical drag-and-drop, block-based programming interface. This helps remove the need to memorise programming syntax (semantic rules unique to each programming language), as younger kids will prefer clicking on programming icons instead of typing out codes on a keyboard.

In most coding classes, students will usually work on a digital project. Younger kids who attend coding classes may be taught animationgame creation, and even mobile application development. Coding classes for older kids are usually focused on programming languages like Python and Javascript.

Game Coding Class Using Scratch

Robotics for Kids

On the other hand, Robotics involves hardware, which minimally consists of a microcontroller (brain), sensors, and actuators (motors, relays). In robotics classes, students will learn to code and program but they will also spend time on robot construction and electronics circuitry.

Most robotics programmes use LEGO Mindstorms / LEGO SPIKE Prime, Arduino, or VEX. These platforms are usually tied to international competitions such as World Robot Olympiad and VEX Robotics Competition.

Robotics Class using LEGO Mindstorms EV3 / Spike Prime

Which programme is right for my child?

With a variety of course options, this is one of the most frequently asked questions.

Robotics Programmes

Choosing between a Robotics or Coding programme usually depends on your child’s interest and preference. Robotics programmes are sometimes easier to ease into because of the physical nature of the programme, for example, build and program a robot that can navigate out of a maze. The child can easily see a tangible outcome of their intangible program. As robotics-based programmes involve both hardware and software, this encourages the student to think across multiple domains.

Coding Programmes

On the other hand, some children are more visionary thinkers. They can solve problems in their head and they get put off when real-world hardware inconsistencies hamper their ideal solution. There are typically two categories of coding programmes: block-based coding (e.g. Scratch, Minecraft) and text-based coding (e.g. Python). Block-based coding is useful for teaching computational thinking skills (sequential commands, logic selection, repetition) while text-based coding is closer to real-world programming applications (e.g. data analysis, web applications, mobile app development).

Student Project: an Arduino-based safe deposit box with an electronic keypad, LED indicators, and motorised lock system

Student Project: Recognising handwritten numbers using neural network written in Python

If you are still unsure, take advantage of trial classes or discounted introductory classes to let you and your child have a feel of the programme content. Most enrichment centres will also be happy to provide a tour of the place where you can interact with the instructors and find out more about their programmes.

What age should I start them off?

Some programmes have a recommended age requirement. For example, Nullspace’s Robotics Certificate Programme using LEGO SPIKE Prime is recommended for kids ages 9+, while the Inventor Certificate Programme using Arduino starts off at ages 10+. Based on the math concepts or logical thinking processes that students learn in schools, our instructors will assess the content difficulty and recommend certain ages for different programmes.

Thus, we generally do not recommend any robotics or coding programmes below the age of 8, as most kids are still developing their cognitive abilities such as reasoning and abstract thinking. Certain mathematical operations like inequalities and algebraic formulas that are commonly used in programming may be too difficult for younger kids to understand which may kill off any budding interest. Despite this, we have also had younger kids and even adults enrol in our classes.

What can my child take away from these classes?

Robotics and Coding Enrichment Programmes can introduce computational thinking and programming skills to kids at a young age. They can also develop collaborative social skills when they work together for competitions.

However, the biggest takeaway is actually for kids to be familiar with creating with technology. As future generations navigate this digital age, creating, adapting, and innovating using technology will prove to be an important life skill.

In conclusion, it does not matter so much which robotics platform or programming language they learn, so long as they learn it right. In this digital age, there will always be new platforms and programs popping up, but having some robotics and coding exposure will definitely be able to prepare kids for the future.

The reason we send kids for swimming classes is because swimming is an important survival skill, not so much because we want them to become competitive swimmers. In the same way exposure to technology engineering in kids is an important survival skill in the digital age. Not everyone will be engineers, but everyone needs to have engineering skillsets. You create or you sink.

Alan YongChief Executive, Nullspace

Learn Robotics & Coding with Nullspace!

Nullspace offers a variety of robotics & coding classes for kids between ages 6 to 16. Established in 2008, we are the leading pioneer of tech education in Singapore. Trusted and recognised by MOE Singapore, Nullspace Robotics is the appointed vendor for the GEP Computer Enrichment Programme (CEP). With a team of highly experienced and dedicated instructors, we boast one of the smallest class sizes with an average instructor-to-student ratio of 1:3 – promising for the highest quality of education your children deserve.

Explore our Robotics ProgrammesExplore our Coding ProgrammesContact Us (Whatsapp)

C4RL-WEST (Rochester Branch)

35 Rochester Drive, #03-07
Singapore 138639 (Rochester Mall)

C4RL-EAST (Siglap Branch)

5B Figaro Street
Singapore 458329

Quality Education Your Child Deserves

Nullspace is awarded with the STEM.org Accredited Educational Experience Trustmark - a recognition of the quality and efficacy of our Robotics and Coding STEM-based programmes.

Established in 2008, Nullspace is the leading pioneer of Robotics & Coding Education in Singapore.

STEM.org Accredited Educational Experience