Programmable robots and on-screen robot simulations provide engaging practical learning in mathematics (shape, position and movement, angle, measurement & problem solving) in the primary classroom.
There are a number of robots and online simulations available. Falkirk primary schools have Infant Video Toolkit software from 2Simple, Bee-Bot and Pro-Bot robots from TTS, Roamer robot from Valiant Technology, MSW Logo software and Roamerworld software.
Each of these share the same basic principles of requiring the entry of logical statements in a set order to execute a sequence of commands to a floor robot or an on-screen simulation, with the end result being to follow a pre-determined path – from a simple straight line to ever-increasingly complex patterns and sequences. Each time consolidating and building on the learning which has gone on before. And while each of these programs share the same programming logical language (making the skills transferable between them, and contributing to developing early programming skills), each age group of pupils (and level of experience) will find one which suits them better. Whether it is for the development of logical thinking in maths or responding to the need to teach programming for computing. And of course each teacher will have their own preferences to suit the contexts in which they wish to place the learning.
The trick, of course, in a primary classroom is to make the mathematics age and stage appropriate, and to set the required problem-solving in a context which will help engage all learners. Thus the robot becomes whatever the creative teacher and pupils want it to be, and the journey or route for that robot then becomes a part of a story. And so the fun begins!
Here you will find links to resources to support the use of Infant Video Toolkit software from 2Simple, Bee-Bot and Pro-Bot robots from TTS, Roamer robot from Valiant Technology, MSW Logo software and Roamerworld software.
Dr Techniko – for the youngest primary school pupils Nikos Michalakis on his Dr Techniko site has provided examples of how to introduce the concept of programming to the youngest children, without using any computers or other devices.
For an excellent guide for teachers on using the Bee-Bot in the primary classroom see the “ICT Learning Innovation Centre’s Guide to using Bee-Bots in the Early Phase” from the Queensland Government’s Department of Education, Training & the Arts. This resource has been developed to help teachers make Bee-Bots integral to learning in Early Phase Classrooms and was developed by Kristine Kopelke, Project Officer – ICT Learning Innovation Centre: http://elresources.skola.edu.mt/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/doc_669_2468_beebotguideA4v2.pdf
For a livebinder by 2Sparkley with ideas, links to blogs where the Bee-Bot is being used, lesson plans and videos on use of BeeBot programmable robot see http://ow.ly/4cUdZ
And from Ambleside Primary school you will find an extensive guide to using logo in the primary classroom. Resources are lid out in a structured way, there are a multitude of examples with step-by-step gudies. there are also many links to further Logo resources. And there is a good description of the benefits of using Logo in the primary clasroom with all ages and stages.
Online Logo is a free to use online tool for using Logo. It has descriptions of Logo commands and, in addition, has a series of challenges. Each challenge provides a link back to the command instructions, and users can jump to any challenge
Micro:Bits for Primary Schools – a great site by primary school teacher and university lecturer Neil Rickus which details how the BBC Micro:Bit can be used as a programmable device by learners in a primary school. There is a raft of resources (and suggestions for alternative devices too).