Functioning with the quadruped MekaMon robot, Reach EDU will utlise MekaMon’s sophisticated locomotion and personality to entertain, inspire and educate students from across the academic spectrum by bringing creative learning and advanced robotics together.
Operating alongside the existing MekaMon gaming app, Reach EDU will launch with six guided missions to support the KS2 Computer Science curriculum with plans to formally expand into KS3 and 4 in the next academic year.
Rooted in the MekaMon universe, the app uses engaging storytelling to guide students as they get to grips with block coding. Led by Ivy, the Head Engineer at the Mekacademy, students must learn to pilot their MekaMon in a series of game-like challenges in preparation for a mission to Mars.
With step-by-step instructions and an intuitive interface, educators are able to introduce essential concepts like loops, variables and events whatever their own level of specialist knowledge.
The app is structured around four core features, allowing educators to create their own creative cross-curricular activities in addition to the missions and tailor lessons to students’ experience and ability:
Free Drive: Control MekaMon freely to experiment with its fluid movement and lifelike animations. From manoeuvring around obstacle courses to testing MekaMon on different terrain, Free Drive offers unparalleled flexibility in cross-curricular application.
MekaDraw: Trace a line across the screen and MekaMon will follow. Add animations and head colour changes at different points on its journey to fully customise the robot’s journey.
MekaMotion: Our stopframe animation suite. Physically code MekaMon by moving each of its limbs to build up a series of movements and create unique animations.
MekaCode: Code direct commands in Scratch-based block coding.
A companion website, edu.reachrobotics.com, provides background, guidance, and resources for parents, students and educators.
Silas Adekunle, CEO and co-founder of Reach Robotics, said: “There’s a huge amount of creative potential with MekaMon, due to the scope of its expressive movement and personality. Reach EDU is about delivering the tools for students to take advantage of this, by creating a versatile, accessible, and fun platform for effective STEAM education and ongoing innovation.”
As part of the development for ReachEDU, Reach Robotics recently completed a pilot with UK primary and secondary schools from both the state and public sector.
Adekunle added: “The pilot was invaluable. We are determined to offer something that is intuitive, relevant and useful to teachers – the only way to do this is to get our EdTech into the hands of educators.
“Thanks to their feedback, we’ve been able to refine the missions and start to develop our cross-curricular resources. For example, we never considered that adjusting the gait of MekaMon could be used to teach how different animals walk but that’s the beauty of working directly with educators.”
Jo Scott, Careers and Enterprise Leader at Thornton Girls’ College, which took part in the pilot, said “The reaction to MekaMon in the school has been electric. There have been obvious applications in KS2 Computer Science but we’ve also had teachers developing lessons plans for English, SEN classes and even PSHE.
“As a girls’ school, we are particularly keen to promote STEM to our pupils – both in terms of their studies and future careers. So having a creative tool that makes abstract concepts tangible whilst breaking down perceived barriers is incredibly valuable.”
Working with existing pilot schools and the new cohort of educators, ReachEDU will have ongoing updates with new missions, content and supporting materials continually being developed to meet the needs of teachers.
For students further along in their studies, including those at degree and postgraduate level, third-party educational platforms are being developed to work MekaMon.
These will include a Reach Raspberry Pi processing module and a browser version of ReachEDU incorporating Python to support KS3 and 4 curriculums and open the platform up to advanced experimentation.