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The Bett Show (2019)

The Bett Show (2019)

Aidan Gracey June 2019
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Anyone who has ever attended the BETT Show in London will tell you it is chaotic and very commercial. The latter is inevitable, because BETT is a free-entry event, and someone has to pay to make sure that the four-day education show is a success. BETT was reported bigger than ever this year, with 10% more vendors and visitors, overspilling into an additional space across the corridor from the usual trade show venue.

As a friend of mine said as they wandered around the show this year, skillfully sidestepping the host of staffers dressed up as astronauts and transformers all trying to sell him their latest shiny gadget. He told me personally that most predominate displays seemed to feature robots. Yes, BETT 2019 definitely featured more robots than just about any other educational technology,

There are tools and technology and then there are (arguably) toys. A few robots I've seen are potentially useful tools to promote interesting and engaging pedagogy, but some seemed to do nothing more than following a black line around in circles. However, from the education standpoint, there are ones that were actually programmable came in various shapes and sizes and many had the potential to encourage future generations. I could also envisage how they might be deployed in classrooms to encourage students to actively pursue a range of learning as well as help with computational thinking and problem-solving.

The most impressive range of educational robots on offer are VEX Robotics as they seem to provide tools to inspire the demographic mentioned above. These kits help students build robots, investing creativity into their designs, and then they program them to perform a variety of tasks that are mapped again a school curriculum. There is plenty of guidance and support on offer for teachers and child to get interested in learning maths, sciences and other subjects through the building, making and problem-solving. However, this resonates with constructionist beliefs that Seymour Papert and Mitch Resnick (speakers at the BETT this year).

If there were robots in my school during my academic time, I would have always turned up for every lesson. 

After seeing the future progressions of this, now Step Teachers have implemented a recommend a school scheme. If you were to recommend a school, Step Teachers will fund your school with your very own VEX Robot! T&C applies.