BeeBot Boogaloo

On Friday morning I was priviledged to work with our year 2 students. They are usually very excited by all things involving ICT, but even more so than usual today, as they met our beebots for the first time, and were completely drawn in to the context we had created for their use.

I was inspired by an idea presented in Anthony Evan's Blog, about the illegal capture, and sale of BeeBots from the wild. I used the idea as a starting point to, present these programmable toys as imaginary living things. Things to be cared for and looked after. Caring for resources and tools is one of my pet gripes, so introducing these new resources, and how we care for them, preserve their battery life, etc was a key element of the activities and routines I introduced to the students in this first session. The BeeBots loaned themselves beautifully to this. They were introduced in whispers in their carry cases as shy creatures, who were asleep at the moment. While they were asleep they were gently handled, as we talked about how we get them to do things. In a low voice I began explaining how we used the control panel to input instructions for forward and backward movement, how they were able to turn, and how we get the bots to go. The Bots were turned gently over, to show how we woke them up, and how we sent them back to sleep when we had finished our activities, by flicking the on off switch. The first part of the session focussed on the children playing freely with the bots, exploring what they could do and how they could make this happen. As you might imagine the first big problem was, having not modelled how to clear the bots memory, the instructions each group put in resulted in a growing number of actions by the bot each time the go button was pressed.

The children were brought back together and the idea of remembering, and memory was introduced. By pressing the clear memory button, we could get the bot to forget other actions and start again. The idea of the carry case, as a bed for the bots to sleep in between tasks as well as at the end of the session; the idea of clearing their memories, as a way of getting the Bots to forget what they had been doing in between activities, appealed very much to these young learners. The idea of puttng the bot to sleep, before putting them in their bed also contributed to the success of organising these sessions, with the children putting the bot to sleep before returning to the carpet space.

One of the problems within the activity was the excitement generated. This wasn't really a problem, it just required some management input to enable all children to have a turn. I rediscovered from lost memories today, that when we are 6 and excited, taking turns is not high on our priority list. So thinking quickly the children were encouraged to invent a "beebot boogy." I introduced the idea that what beebots like to do most in the world is dance, and that we could teach them how to do this, by inputting their "moves," for them. Each group were given a small white board and dry wipe pens, and encouraged to take turns to record a step in the "move." Every child could have 3 moves each. When they came to program the moves, the child who had written it, must be allowed to input it, it was only fair. Finally all moves had to be in before the bot could go. They had a really good time doing this, and the recordings or jottings they had made were photocopied later, as evidence for display too.

At the end of the session the children were allowed to keep their bots awake as we came back together to share our beebot boogies. I always carry with me either a DV camera or Digital Camera, and today I videoed the boogies. At home later I edited the clips together and added a sound track. The Beebot Boogies video for one of the year 2 classes can be found on our school website. Hope you enjoy the show.

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