Bee Bots are a fantastic way to introduce lower elementary children to coding and like a all robotics based activities, bridge the abstract/concrete gap in a way that Piaget would whole heartedly approve.
If you haven’t used Bee Bots before, you might want to watch this first;
Although there’s lots of buzz (no pun intended) around coding classes in schools, there is no need to introduce an extra coding class in the lower years. In this instance, our grade 2 classes were already investigating directions and coordinates and the Bee Bots were
the perfect way to explore those ideas – supplementing or replacing existing lessons.
On the management front, we split the class in half – one half used the Bee Bots app on their iPads while the other half were paired up and each given a physical Bee Bot. We have this set (see image right) and although it is convenient, our charger base has broken twice within a few months!
The Bee Bot groups were introduced to their Bee Bots and I quickly showed them how to use the controls to program their movement. There is certainly a case to be made for letting the students investigate the controls by themselves, and if time had allowed it I think I probably would do that.
I then introduced some simple challenges to the students – for example, “Program your Bee Bot to go around a book and back.”
What many students found difficult was the idea of completing the code before hitting go. They would click forward arrow 4 times, then Go, and if it hadn’t moved far enough,they would click forward a few more times. The objective is to preprogram the Bee Bots movements in advance before hitting go. One of these ideas is concrete, the other is abstract. Piaget would say “Of course a 7 year old will struggle at first with this”
After 10 minutes or so with these kinds of challenges, we introduced the gridded mats we had made from stiff cardboard. Each student also was given a booklet of challenges, a treasure icon, home icon and brick icon. (Click here for all media)
Please feel free to use these resources, and if you have more great ways to use Bee Bots, leave us a comment!