Almost 100 school pupils from Edinburgh were invited to Amazon’s Development Centre Scotland this week to build robots designed to spark their interest in pursuing careers in engineering and technology.

P6 pupils from South Morningside Primary School aged between 10 and 11 attended Amazon Development Centre in Edinburgh to take part in the company’s Future Makers initiative, an event aimed at helping young people experience tech careers.

Children were asked to design a robot that could solve a problem in the real world, using a combination of toy building blocks and electronics components. Amazon engineers worked with the children to write code to program the robots to move around and fulfil their functions.

Robots and children

Robot designs created by the children ranged from a gadget to help blind people read, a guard to protect your home and a medicine dispensing bot, which reminds people to take their medication at the right time of the day. Some ideas were aimed at addressing pollution and plastic waste, whilst others were more light-hearted including a futuristic alarm clock that wakes you up in the morning with a slap to the face.

As well as designing the next generation of robots, attending school children also gained first-hand experience of everyday life in the tech industry, and heard from some of Amazon’s leading innovators about their own training and career journeys.

Ellie Trotter, senior product manager at Amazon's Development Centre in Scotland, based at Waverley Gate, said: “The Amazon Future Makers programme is aimed at engaging primary school pupils who are getting ready to join high school as we know this is a good age to get them inspired about their future. It’s about showing them the wealth of opportunity available to them in the tech industry in a fun and memorable way.

“We believe a great way to do this is through demystifying tech for children by working hands-on with simple tech materials, showing that there’s really no magic involved. We hope it helps young people get the idea that tech isn’t about building cool stuff per-se, but about solving problems in the real world.“

“Children love to show off their creativity, whether it’s through art, games or building things. Digital making gives children the opportunity to be creative in the same way, while experimenting with the internals of gadgetry and how to control it using computer programming.“

Children learning with robotics at Amazon

The children had a wonderful time, and loved the challenge of programming the robots. They were particularly inspired by working with the Amazon engineering team whose calm problem solving approach taught them so much about how to tackle tech challenges. It really motivated the children to think about how they could invent the future.
Susan Morgan, deputy head teacher at South Morningside Primary School
Ellie Trotter, Senior Product Manager at Amazon Development Centre, Scotland, gives her tips on getting more children into tech.