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Brawny robots for brainy tots

By  : INDICS Operator Updated  :   2019-03-22 10:11:07

Source: China Daily

Fancy your child aged 6-12 building robots and programming them with self-written software using new-age tools and toys made by Chinese educational technology, or ed tech, firms?

Well, if he/she hasn't done that yet, it could mean he/she may want to catch up with over 5 million children around the world who have been using educational robots or intelligent hardware made by Chinese startup Makeblock (2017 sales: 203 million yuan or $29.6 million, 70 percent of which came from overseas).

Such startups are eyeing a potential multibillion-dollar global market for tech-powered learning tools for children.

Makeblock claims it has sold its robot kits in over 140 countries where over 5 million children in more than 20,000 schools use them.

In France, over 6,000 French primary and secondary schools are using Makeblock-based software and courses.

Industry sales in 2018 are estimated to reach $80 million in China alone, almost 10.8 percent of the global total, according to a report from Chinese ed tech firm JMDedu.

Such potential can be linked to Chinese kids such as Beijing's Chris Chen, 6, who can immerse themselves in cerebral tasks like robot-building and code-writing a whole afternoon.

Chen's mother Qin Liu, in her late 30s, an engineer with a Beijing-based internet company, said her son is still learning the English alphabet at the kindergarten, but can assemble Lego-like kits into a beetle, a cat and a frog in a jiffy.

Do-it-yourself or DIY block-building, or assembling stuff from kits comprising motors, wires, wheels, sensors and LED lights, is just the start.

Next is commanding the object, typically a robot, to perform or execute tasks-simple actions like moving back and forth-through self-developed code, using related mobile apps.

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