Teaching Robotics in Linyi

As part of our trip to China (中国), we taught robotics to children with mental disabilities in Linyi (临沂). The class was a new experience – both for us and for the students, who had rarely been exposed to the concepts of STEM.


When we settled in, the students took turns introducing themselves. Most were shy and not used to being given
much attention, but with some encouragement, almost all of them stood up and gave a couple of basic facts about themselves. It was clear that they were relieved but proud.

After a brief introduction to robotics and the various kinds of LEGO pieces, the students were split up into 6 teams
and were ready to build. As we gave out the MINDSTORMS kits, they examined the pieces intensely using various methods. Finally, we taught them how to build a robot step-by-step:

The students took advantage of our slow but steady pace and worked on their own little creative inventions:

Eventually, all those little steps added up, and their robots were completed. They each were very eager to start using each robot, having figured out how to turn the EV3 brick on.

As soon as the robots were completed, we jumped right into programming. We guided the students in creating a basic program to stay in the circle. With more encouragement, they took turns dragging and tweaking programming blocks on their team’s computer.

At last, it was time to set the robots into motion. After quickly teaching the students how to download and run their programs, we laid out some SumoBot mats and let their robots battle.

We were extremely delighted to see how the students were extremely happy and eager to battle their robots. Every time they saw two or three robots battle, they would all give a yell of excitement and would watch to see whose robot would become the ultimate winner. It was one of the most excited rooms of students we’ve seen.


Helping disabled children

The first goal of this class is to help mentally disabled children prepare for the future. The amount of change in the world is increasing exponentially, and people of all ages should be taught to adapt. By exposing them to robotics and other STEM concepts, we hope to foster an interest in STEM so that they can make the world a better place in adulthood. Ultimately, we want to give these children the skills and the confidence necessary to take care of themselves.

Helping the world

As well as helping mentally disabled children, we hope to break some of the stereotypes surrounding mental
disabilities. In China, most parents of mentally disabled people are ashamed that they’ve somehow done some mysterious thing to cause their child’s condition. We’d like to change that, and give parents the confidence to embrace and take pride in their child’s differences. Also, we hope to have the world understand that while it’s not clear at first glance, they still have really strong feelings such as love, affection, excitement, sadness, and happiness, especially in captivating moments such as seeing robots battle. At first glance, mentally disabled people may just seem socially akward, non-verbal, somehow extremely intelligent, and emotionless, but we want to show the world that deep down, they’re just like you – interesting people who care about others and face the same challenges as us.

Final Thoughts

This class is just one of the little steps in helping mentally disabled kids with these goals. In the future, we want to host more classes like this to help acheive these goals, and to truly help kids of all types, including mentally disabled kids, help other kids.

A Week of Qingdao Robotics

In summer 2016, we headed to a Chinese summer camp in Qingdao to teach the kids there about robotics. It was packed with new experiences for everyone involved in it.


Day 1 – Building

Eddie was helping kids.

On the first day, we got to know the kids and helped them build the robots. We discussed the basics of LEGO robotics, such as what a robot is and how to build using LEGO Technic. With some translation, they managed to grasp the concepts, and we moved on to building.

We let the student body (about 15 students) split up into groups of 2 and 3. Each group chose one out of three of our robots to build. After doing this, we guided them step-by-step in building their robot until each group was able to show their robots in pride:

Day 2 – Basic Programming

Now that the students had built their robots, it was time to teach them how to program their robots.

We started out by pointing out various parts of the EV3 software. After the students had familiarized themselves with the programming software, we let them play around with the most basic block, Move Steering:

Each group had a blast learning to make their robot move forward, backward, and even turn.

Day 3 – Sensor Programming

Anthony was showing sensors to the class.

At this point, the students had a solid understanding of motor programming, so we moved on to sensor programming.

We taught them about the control statements of programming, such as switches (if statements), loops, and wait blocks. They learned how to program their robot to stay inside a circle, and watched their robots running their programs with excitement:

Finally, they were ready to prepare for our SumoBots competition. We guided them through making a simple SumoBots program using the color and ultrasonic sensors. They even had time to make their robots their own.

Day 4 – Competition

Finally, after building, programming, and customizing their robots, each st

Kids were competing with each other.

udent was ready for seeing their robots battle against each other in a friendly competition. Everyone watched and rooted for each team, and started cheering whenever a robot pushed another robot out of the SumoBot ring.

In the end, everyone had fun with robotics, having learned to build, program, customize, and battle their robots.


Yes, we at Kids2Kids also learned quite a bit from the summer camp.

The Language Barrier

Our students were born in China, and have lived there to this day, so most of them spoke in Chinese. This language divide required us to learn how to speak in Chinese. Eventually, we learned enough Chinese to carry moderate conversations, and we’re pretty proud of that.

Tofu, Bread, and Clay

We also took part in the summer camp’s activities, such as watching movies, going to museums, and learning how to make various Chinese things. For example, we learned how Qingdao started out as an ancient, peaceful city, as well as its history under German occupation. We also learned how to make tofu (note to anyone making tofu: it requires a lot of soybeans) and soymilk (a byproduct of making tofu), as well as a kind of Chinese bread (it’s white and it’s pretty tasty) and clay pottery (my pot broke in half in the middle of the session.) We even slept and ate at the summer camp, making friends with the kids there and learning more about Chinese culture.

Expanding our Horizons

On Thursday, we visited a school called YiTu that teaches kids using LEGO in Beijing, China, where LEGOs aren’t as prevalent.


After exchanging greetings, we shared our experiences with LEGO. We IMG_6090talked about how we learned about FIRST in the first place, explained the FIRST family of robotics competitions, and shared how we teach LEGO robotics. More importantly, we talked about the life-changing aspect of FIRST robotics,
detailing how FLL (First LEGO League) had encouraged us to spread STEM concepts throughout our community, and eventually form Kids2Kids.

The teachers at YiTu were interested in FIRST’s robotics competitions, especially FLL Jr. We learned about their plan to use LEGO WeDo in their curriculum, and we were very excited to find out that they were interested in creating a FLL Jr. team and even hosting a FLL Jr. competition.


However, we’re especially excited for this opportunity because of the potential new robotics teams in China. We hope to be in touch soon, and we wish good luck to any new robotics teams!