In this weeks digital technology class we were given the opportunity to explore programmable toys (specifically Bee-Bot) in order to develop our ability to use this learning utensil and to deepen our understanding of how this programme can be used in the classroom environment to expand the children’s learning.
At the beginning of the class we were introduced to the history of programmable toys. I found it extremely interesting to find out that programmable toys and robots dated back to the 1960’s when Seymour Papert created Logo. This programme was designed to give the children a chance to explore complex programming by controlling the arrow in order to draw lines on the screen (Papert S, 1960). After discussing the history of programmable toys and the many benefits of them, we were given our brief for the assessment task. For this we were to design a Bee-Bot mat which would be a stimulating activity for children.
Prior to this assessment I had limited experience with the Bee-Bot technology and therefore I was a little apprehensive. However, after being given a Bee-Bot to experiment with my nerves were very quickly settled as the Bee-Bot was extremely simple to understand and programme. It was also extremely bright and colourful which I feel will be very stimulating for the child. Alison Lydon stated that the children in her classroom had ‘Gained independence faster than she had anticipated’ with 12 out of 28 of them being able to use the Bee-Bot independently after the first instruction (Lydon, 2008, pg.2). I feel this was similar within our classroom with the majority of the cohort being able to programme the Bee-Bot with ease.
After exploring the technology, I began to draw a plan of my Bee-Bot mat. I decided to opt for a Bee-Bot game focusing on literacy, which would be aimed at early level learners on curriculum for excellence. This is usually pupils from nursery to primary 1. I planned the Bee-Bot mat around the story ‘The very hungry caterpillar’ and food the caterpillar ate in it’s journey to become a butterfly.
I designed a 4 x 5 square mat, with the boxes exactly 15cm in order for the Bee-Bot to fit in comfortably.
I then added the foods the caterpillar ate on his journey;
- 1 apple
- 2 pears
- 3 plums
- 4 strawberries
- 5 oranges
- 1 cake
- 1 cone
- 1 pickle
- 1 slice of cheese
- 1 slice of salami
- 1 lollipop
- 1 piece of cherry pie
- 1 sausage
- 1 cupcake
- 1 slice of watermelon
- 1 leaf.
The expectation of my mat was that the child would program the Bee-Bot to move from the ‘GO’ position to each of the food items the caterpillar ate. Prior to the activity I would read and discuss the ‘very hungry caterpillar’ book with my class and this would be a method of developing the children’s recall in a fun and stimulating manner. After the child has programmed the Bee-Bots movement and watched the robot move they will check if they were correct by checking the very hungry caterpillar book. The Curriculum for excellence experiences and outcomes that I was looking to achieve throughout my game were:
I listen for useful or interesting information and I use this to make choices LIT-0-04a
I can develop a sequence of instructions and run them using programmable devices or equivalent TCH 0-15a.
From a teaching perspective, this weeks lesson on programmable toys has been invaluable in developing my knowledge of how to use technologies such as Bee-Bots in the classroom well. It has shown me that Bee-Bots are an excellent method of allowing the children to explore cross-curricular learning in a fun, imaginative and stimulating manner. Bee-Bots open so many doors for learning with 1 activity sprouting 10 other ideas and follow up activities. It allows for collaboration, conversation and allows the children to take the lead in learning. Alongside the fun and social aspects of using Bee-Bots, it also allows for the children to be introduced to the idea of programming technologies which will be a fundamental skill from them later in their school careers. Beauchamp (2012,p65) further emphasises this point when stating that ‘ICT is not just a computer with Early years software installed. ICT is anything that you can press a button and make something happen, it is the beginnings of children understanding that technology requires programming and that they can be in control of making things happen’.
Overall, I really enjoyed exploring Bee-Bot, the amount of activities that are achievable through using Bee-Bot is astonishing and I will most definitely be using them in my classroom in the future.
- Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the primary school from pedagogy to practice Pearson:Harlow, England.
- Lydon, A. (2008) Let’s go with Bee-Bot : using your Bee-Bot across the curriculum. TTS group Ltd.
- Papert, S. Http://www.transum.org/software/logo/