Young learners are being inspired to consider a career in new technologies in an engagement campaign by the National Robotarium

Some 10,000 school children so far have been inspired to consider a career in robotics in a year-long engagement campaign by the National Robotarium in Edinburgh. This centre for robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) located at Heriot Watt University opened in September 2022 and in its first year of operation it hosted over 50 in-person and virtual events for schools.

This mission to educate more young people about robotics and cutting-edge technologies has been supported by partners such as Glasgow Science Centre and social enterprise group Datakirk. The campaign is focused on engaging children from the widest range of backgrounds – including those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds who are at risk of digital exclusion. It is also aiming to encourage gender diversity among future STEM students at university. Alongside virtual and live events, the team have also headed out on roadshows to locations such as Orkney.

Schools to robot with National Robotarium campaign
Spot demonstrating robotic running as part of the National Robotarium engagement campaign

The National Robotarium is part of the £1.3 billion 15-year investment programme jointly funded by the UK Government, Scottish Government and regional partners. The £22.4 million Robotarium facility in Edinburgh, the largest of its kind in the UK, is an innovation hub for the practical application of robotics and autonomous systems in industry and society. Current projects range from AI applications to assist people with autism to robots to support agriculture and food production.

“We’re showcasing ways robots can help humans do things better, for the benefit of industry and society, and inspiring the next generation of roboticists and AI pioneers,” says industry and schools engagement co-lead Sabaht Bashir. “The research our world-leading experts are conducting today to make our lives safer, healthier and more productive will be the world that our young learners inherit tomorrow,” she adds.

While the possibilities of robotics and AI technologies seem almost limitless, the Robotarium highlights for many schoolchildren who have visited so far are watching Spot, the robot dog run, respond and do tricks. They also love trying out immersive VR technology and seeing the programming language they already learn in their classrooms given real-world applications. As Libby Robertson, a Year 6 pupil from Knightswood Secondary School in Glasgow puts it: “The visit was so amazing that I’m now considering doing it as a future career choice”.

National Robotarium

Further reading: Why children need digital education