Robotics challenges and builds upon so many different subject areas. This is one of the reasons robotics is such a great activity for people of all ages to explore.
Math is extremely important for programming and robotics. When it comes to building and programming a robot, you need logical thinking and code writing skills. That means you need MATH!
You may notice as you read that many of these math skills and concepts seem to overlap with each other. This is true! Math concepts build upon each other, so when you have a foundational understanding in one area, you’ll find that other math concepts are easier to grasp. Having a good understanding in these areas will help you be successful in robotics.
Keep reading to explore some of the math elements required for building and programming a robot.
Geometry Helps With Building Robots
When it comes to physically building a robot, understanding basic geometry is necessary. The size, shape, area, etc. of the parts are important so that the design is functional. For example, if the robot you are designing will be programmed to pick up an object or move across a terrain, the size, shape, and placement of the parts you use are extremely important.
You’ll ask questions such as:
- What shapes work best to build hands/fingers?
- Is the part attached at the correct angle for movement?
- Will the shape of this part affect the movement of the robot?
- How might a rectangle part work differently than a square part?
Considering something as simple as wheel size uses geometry knowledge. Additionally, some robots will even need different shaped wheels for different tasks, such as climbing stairs.
Speaking of wheels and rotating parts, understanding angles is necessary to allow the parts to rotate efficiently and allow the robot to move.
Building a robot for a specific purpose or task means analyzing the geometry of the robot and its parts to make it function. Each robot will be different, so that means each time you build a robot, you will be flexing your geometry skills.
Geometry is just one math concept you need for robotics.
Measurement Is Linked to Geometry When Building Robots
Measurement is another necessary math skill in robotics and this skill works with and even overlaps with geometry. At the very basic stage, knowing how large or small your robot needs to be includes measurement skills.
For example, once you’ve decided what shapes will work best to pick up an object such as a basketball (geometry), then you might measure the ball’s circumference. Then, knowing how large the ball is, you’ll measure the hand parts to make sure they are large enough to pick up the ball. Working with robotics allows you to use your measurement math skills in a hands-on way. Seeing results in action is a really powerful way for you to improve this math skill.
Another way you may use measurement in robotics is when doing trials with your robot. For example, if you’re designing your robot to move across a surface, you’ll do trials and record how far or fast the robot goes. You might tweak something in your robot design or code and then do the trial again to see if it can go further or faster.
This is another way that you need to use measurement in robotics.
Statistics Helps You Understand Your Robot Data
Statistics is another math skill used in robotics. Once your robot is designed, programmed, and you’ve done some trials, you’ll have a lot of data that you’ve measured. But then what do you do with it? This is where statistics comes in!
You can use your statistical understanding to make sense of the data from your trials. For example, you might create a data table to log the measurements from speed trials. Then, you can find the average speed your robot moved.
If you were measuring the speed your robot moved while holding different weighted objects, you could use the data to create a graph. This would give you a great visual to analyze and understand the relationship between weight and speed.
Algebraic Thinking Helps When Building and Programming Your Robot
Algebra is one of the most important math skills you will need to do robotics. Algebra requires problem solving skills, which is essential to building robots. Algebra also involves identifying patterns, relationships, and functions between objects.
Even for children and robotics beginners, the basic concepts of algebra will be explored when building and programming a robot. For example, finding the patterns and relationships between speed and power, or wheel diameter and distance traveled are algebraic concepts.
These concepts will be explored more deeply as you advance in robotics.
Programming A Robot Requires Mathematical Thinking
When it comes to programming a robot, math is once again front and center. Writing code takes logical thinking. You have to consider each step the robot needs to take to make something happen.
When writing code for your robot, you’re considering the input/output or cause/effect relationship between actions. And you do this all while considering the geometry and measurement concepts of your design.
While undergoing the programming process, you will have to debug your code and your thinking often.This is problem solving and algebra in action! As you work to make the robot do what it needs to do, you will change, tweak, and debug your code until it’s perfect.
This process can be frustrating, but it teaches other extremely important math concepts–making sense of problems and persevering to solve them. It’s common for people (both kids and adults) to feel a great sense of failure when they get a math problem incorrect. Sometimes this results in giving up.
When programming a robot, mistakes are expected and necessary. Even the most advanced programmers have to debug their code. When this is taught and understood when building and programming a robot, it is very empowering. Persevering to solve problems will serve both children and adults in their math encounters, and is a great life skill to have in general.
Robotics Is A Great Way To Practice And Improve Math Skills
Math is essential for every step of building and programming a robot. The great thing about the relationship between robotics and math, is that these skills are necessary from beginner to advanced robotics.
This is good news, because even as a young child, robotics kits can help support math skills and understanding. When you start with a foundational understanding of math, it’s easy to build upon those concepts in the future. This will allow you to become better and better at building and programming robots.
Math is more than simply adding and subtracting, multiplying and dividing. Math is applicable in so many real life situations–including robotics! And practicing math skills while building a robot is definitely more engaging than doing problems from a worksheet or textbook.
If you’re ready to explore the relationship between math and robotics, check out Zobotics Robot Kits. They are a great way to practice and improve math skills in a fun and engaging way!