There’s more than one way to teach a child how to write

It’s difficult to break bad handwriting habits once you’re older. What can we do about it?

Handwriting doesn’t enjoy the same status as it once did. Back in the day, you would pull out your pen and notebook, but now smartphones, tablets and laptops are setting the agenda. This is undoubtedly practical, yet we quickly lose sight of the deeper significance of handwriting, which is more than just a quirky expression of our individuality. A study has shown that test subjects who jotted down notes by hand exhibited greater brain activity than those who resorted to using a keyboard, which suggests motor skills and memory are closely linked. In 2015, a survey conducted by the German Teachers’ Association and the Writing Motor Skills Institute among teaching staff revealed that only 20 percent of secondary school pupils in Germany have acceptable handwriting. The survey also claimed that a mere 38 percent were able to write comfortably for more than 30 minutes. So it’s pretty clear that learning how to write at primary school is of vital importance. A project from the Netherlands has now come up with innovative measures to tackle writing problems.

Getting the hand movements right from early on

The “Sqriba” writing robot co-developed by students at Hague University of Applied Sciences and Delft University of Technology uses repetitive movement to improve handwriting. Philip Schara was one of the dedicated students who worked on this project and is taking it further with his fledgling business Jemax Robotics. “It’s actually a simple principle. When you repeat the same movement over and over again, it locks into your subconscious. This is also referred to as ‘muscle memory’,” explains Schara. As a result, developing messy or poor handwriting (known in slang terms as “chicken scratch”) at a young age means you will have a hard time putting things right later on. Sqriba intends to prevent this from happening in the first place and rectify specific grip problems.

The schoolchildren are guided by a special pen with a small metal ball attached to the end. Rather than being controlled by the children, the pen is automatically steered by a small but powerful magnet under the table top, which is also an integral part of the Sqriba setup. A small touchscreen shows the pupils the letter they’re currently writing with the magnetic pen in its perfect form. This innovative combination of motor and visual feedback creates a new type of learning experience that helps young schoolchildren learn the correct way to form letters while they play around with this exciting technology.

Having fun with writing

The basic frame that holds all the individual elements together is made using profile technology from the item MB Building Kit System. Having worked with item profile technology on numerous projects as a mechanical engineering student, Schara was well acquainted with its versatility. And it certainly didn’t let him down for this writing robot, either: “The modularity of item really helped us right from when we first started working on Sqriba. We were able to try out new ideas and concepts without having to restrict ourselves in any way.” But there was another, rather pragmatic reason that spoke in favour of item. “It’s a happy coincidence of course that the item subsidiary in the Netherlands is just 200 meters from Hague University of Applied Sciences,” says Schara with a twinkle in his eye.

Sqriba has already been successfully tested at three Dutch primary schools. One of these was the De Boeier school in Lelystad, where twenty fourth-year pupils were able to tackle their writing problems head on. Their difficulties are anything but unusual – letters are too big or too small, not using the correct grip, or simply not really being able to write at all. But by practising with Sqriba on a daily basis, the pupils were able to significantly improve their handwriting. Schoolteacher Ellen de Jong is delighted: “I am seeing clear progress, the children’s handwriting is steadier. And they simply have a lot more fun writing these days.” Further tests are planned for the near future in lower year groups, to help the pupils write faster, for instance. Sqriba will be released for sale in the Netherlands in September 2018.

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2018-10-15T09:00:00+00:00October 15th, 2018|News|
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19. Dec 2018 item Redaktion Once more the year is almost over and the holidays are fast approaching. All the more reason to look back at the blog highlights of 2018. At the same time, we’re signing off for a short Christmas break. After the over-indulgent festivities of the holiday season, the item blog kicked off the new year with an introduction to lean production methods. This is a great place to get an overview of lean terminology. Two more posts at the beginning of the year continued the lean theme. The first was about RWTH Aachen University, which had launched a practical course that teaches students lean assembly on a U-shaped cell. The second was on the CETPM and its new building, where a “Lean 4.0 lab” with integrated Karakuri solution enables an even better form of lean training. Becoming more efficient with digital engineering In the spring, our post “Digital engineering – designing online made simple” was the springboard for an issue that would come to shape 2018 for item. The item Engineeringtool, which is continuously growing, allows users to design 3D constructions using item components from the comfort of their web browser – without having to install any additional software. This means standard tasks can be completed more quickly, and even users with no previous experience find the whole design and configuration process easy. Florian Palatini, head of sales, was the subject of our interview with an expert, and this further expanded on the topic of digital engineering. Networking between design engineers and projects is at the heart of this, which means that engineers are increasingly taking on the role of a project manager. Other posts were devoted to data security in the face of digitalisation in the mechanical engineering sector and a basic explanation of what digitalisation actually is. The entire world of item Alongside these insights into the mechanical engineering of the future, we still stayed true to our roots. For example, we went back to Solingen in the 1970s and the origins of the MB Building Kit System. Shortly after, we dedicated a whole post to expounding the benefits of aluminium profiles. These benefits are particularly obvious in comparison with steel, as only three process steps are required instead of eight. Plus, aluminium is far lighter than steel, while also being very strong and exceptionally corrosion-resistant. The quality of fasteners for aluminium profiles is also of vital importance in this context. Thanks to our quality policy, we are able to provide targeted assistance to our customers in successfully meeting the challenges of specialist mechanical engineering. Stylish and functional We are always fascinated by the unusual ways our solutions are used. For example, we were particularly impressed by the world’s largest 360-degree display in the Autostadt Wolfsburg. The basic construction uses curved profiles from the MB Building Kit System. In the Sivasdescalzo sneaker store in Barcelona, our profile technology is not just to be found in the frame structure of the shelving. Used in the place of steps and to form display platforms, it also adds to the store’s stunning look. Munich-based start-up Spyra has also taken a liking to our profiles, which offer a flexibility and stability that turned out to be perfect for the prototype and a test channel for the innovative Spyra One water pistol. We hope this year’s blog posts about solutions, applications and people from the world of item have been a useful source of inspiration. We’d like to wish all our readers, customers and partners a very happy festive season and a great start to the new year! We’re taking a little break, but will be back after the holidays, with the first article for 2019 on 9 January. Previous article Digitalisation in layman’s terms Categories Latest Posts Archive Research Know-how News Industries People via E-Mail Don´t miss a new blog article!
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