Robotics Integration

This quarter, I have started to push for more embedding/integration of robotics into the Elementary School curriculum. The staff at my school is keen to get this started and we have been working together on making this a reality. The following posts outline what I have been doing and where we plan to take this.

ISTE alignment – Empowered Learner, Knowledge Constructor, Computational Thinker.

Where we started

In RP (Kindergarten), we used the Bee-Bots to introduce the basic concepts of coding and robotics to students aged around 5 years old. While the Bee-Bots might be ‘older’ robots, they are a perfect and non-complicated fit for this purpose!

Kindergarten children working with bee bots on the floor.

For the past two years, the RP team and myself have been working on explicit integration of coding and robotics using Math. As mentioned above, the Bee-Bots are simple robots with basic movement functions, those being forward, back, left and right. As an example, students first had to estimate how many ‘forwards’ for one side of a square, and then this repeat for the remaining sides. Then we discussed the code behind this.

Basic code in written form, of controlling a beebot to go around in a square.

We talked about the properties of a square, and what we might change to make this shape into a rectangle as an example. Students then had to input the suggested changes to see if they could alter the code to make one. As time went on, we found students became more confident in their abilities and we understood that basic movements had more succes than ‘try-again’ moments.

Students were very engaged in the process and their level of language expressing directions and position increased as they had to explain and understand the concepts of making their Bee-Bots traverse these basic patterns.

For the next phase of this integration I wanted to increase the level of logical thinking skills and increase the level of Math language taking place in the class. I taped different maze patterns on the floor with varying complexity levels.

Boys starting to navigate a beebot around a simple maze.

Here we see a simple maze that the boys are trying to navigate. First they estimated the distances of each side before inputting it into the Bee-Bot. By this stage we were about 5 or 6 lessons into the program and the boys knew the drill so we had many students have successful learning moments.

Next up: the Probots!