Getting our Bearings

Last term I really caught Beebot fever with my year 2 group, but this term I have moved on to using Roamers to develop control with a year 3 group. We will be developing a unit of work, which is largely geographical but which will make a considerable mathematical leap, from the use of preprogrammed right angle and quarter turns with a BeeBot. In order to control the Roamer, the children will need to input numerical values for the size of turns and later I want to develop this work to introduce an onscreen turtle.

I decided to take a non digital approach to over come the problem, and made "floor compasses" with the chidlren. During yesterday's session we began with Beebots, but used them to help us begin making and exploring these tools. First of all we made cardboard circles, and folded these into quarters. Using a ruler and pencil we lined in the folds, and added the four cardinal directions. With the beebots sitting in the centre of the compass, we carried out a series of activities to predict what direction the beebot would face, when we inputted different numbers of turns, either to the right/left, to the east/west, or in a clockwise/anticlockwise direction. This was developed as a small group activity, where children took up positions as the points of the compass and used their cardboard compasses to give each other instructions based on predictions, about how many inputs would be needed to rotate the bot to face members of the group. They could only use east, west, or clockwise anticlockwise, and the number of turns they predicted to give these instructions. At the end of the session, we reviewed how our ability to predict had changed, had we got better? What had they noticed about the number of inputs needed to make the turns in one direction when compared with the other? For example 1 turn anticlockwise or west, would require 3 turns clockwise or east if the beebot were to end up facing the same direction. We ended the session by recording the numerical values for North, South, East and West found on a Magnetic compass to our floor compasses, before further folding them and lining in the additional points which next week will become NE, SE, SW and NW. We will be using these compasses next week when I introduce the class set of roamers I have borrowed from our Local CLC, and hopefully these strange and mysterious numbers will begin to mean something to them, as we get our bearings with the more complex floor turtles. Modelled on the floor, through planning routes and journeys for the roamer I hope these cardboard tools, will become helpful when we move to mapwork adventures, using an onscreen turtle in MSW LOGO, later. Perhaps as intrepid adventurers we should also decorate our compass roses, as they become valuable tools on our onscreen expeditions.

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