Lets Think, Code!

In January 2022, Edutab Africa had a great opportunity to facilitate a robotics session during the 12th edition of Think Young Coding Summer School in Nairobi, Kenya. This presented a chance for collaboration between two Fablearn fellows, Michael Mumbo, the co-founder of EduTab Africa, and Brenda Nyakoa from the International Rescue Committee. Our avid love for Maker education brought us together to share best practices in student-centered learning to create an engaging, interactive, and fun workshop for the boot camp participants.

Kids creating and Coding Robots at the coding camp


The participants were largely children from Kenyan primary and a handful of secondary schools from around Nairobi. The age of the participants was between 6-16yrs. The boot camp was structured to run through 2 weekends and had sessions on Web and Game Development, Robotics, and Drones technology. Over the first weekend, we had two, three-hour introductory sessions which covered basic concepts of robotics, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

Since most of the learners were participating in a Robotics session for the first time, we initiated conversations with them to understand what they thought “Robotics” was all about. We used guided simple probing questions like,

“What comes to mind when you hear the word robot?”, “What can robots do?”, “Why do we need robots?”,” what does it take to make a robot”, have you ever seen a robot?

We observed that the participants started sharing their opinions and discussing them amongst themselves.  We also watched a short video clip showing how Rwanda, a country in East Africa, was using robots during the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce human contact between health care workers and patients by temperature measurements and checking the proper wearing of masks and reporting to doctors about the condition of Covid-19 patients. 

We then started the robots building process where Brenda gave an overview of the different components of the programmable Lego Spike Prime kit. These components include Motors, sensors, and bricks. Through the facilitator’s guidance, the learners were able to assemble these components and built a simple driving robot. The kit uses block-based programming called the Lego Spike Prime app and so the participants were able to learn assembling easily. By the end of the session, they could program the robots to perform simple motions including moving front and back, making turns at different angles, making sounds, and using different sensors like colors and motion sensors to control the motion.

Introducing Coding to Children

Reflecting on Seymour Papert’s own words  in The Children’s Machine book is credited for stating that:

 “Construction that takes place ‘in the head’ often happens especially felicitously when it is supported by the construction of a more public sort in the world”

On the second weekend, most of the participants were familiar with the different components of the Lego kits. Instead of going through the guided process of building the robot and programming it, we gave them the freedom to explore different designs and build their robots to their liking. We gave them a simple assignment: to design a moving object that has wheels. While working in groups of about 6 students, they created and presented different creations. It was amazing to see the deep collaboration and creativity of the teams as they strategically divided themselves into smaller task forces within their groups as designers, engineers, and programmers to effectively complete the task.


In our last session with the learners, we had a moment of reflection to collect feedback to improve future workshops for different learners. Here is what some of them had to say about their robotics experience. 

“One of my favorite moments was when I was able to build up a robot from scratch because that’s what engineers do”

“During the robotics session, I learned how to be open-minded and appreciate other people’s decisions”

Some learners were able to showcase their robots in the closing ceremony where parents, caregivers, and other guests were invited. It was impressive how different teams were creative from different angles. For instance, one team used only color sensors to control their assembled robot to navigate the room.  Another team used color sensors, motion sensors, and touch sensors to achieve similar navigation. It was encouraging to see organizations willing to support learners in their journey to creativity. 

Maureen Mbaka, the Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, who attended the showcase event said,

“We are determined to facilitate universal access to ICT infrastructure and services for the Youth through our programs.”

This collaboration opened our eyes to the possibilities that we can achieve in improving learning outcomes for students through global partnerships to share best practices and resources.


One Comment

Martin Oloo

This was amazing work done here. With collaboration, greater things can be achieved and I agree real impact was felt

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