Today in our digital technologies workshop we were learning about the use of programmable toys, in particular the Bee-bot programming, within a classroom setting. I had prior knowledge of how these could be incorporated into a child’s learning as I had previously used the devices throughout my years in primary education, and also in semester one we had an input surrounding these robots and we got the chance to use these to their full potential.
After further investigation it was clearly identified that Bee-bots could be used by all levels, in many settings, covering a variety of different outcomes from the Curriculum for Excellence. In particular we focussed on numeracy outcomes from the CfE and how the Bee-bots could be used by the children for educational purposes.
We were set the task of creating our own Bee-bot mat in groups, incorporating a numeracy element into the game. We created the theme of a trip to the grocery store in which the children would follow a shopping list and send the Bee-bot to each appropriate item. Once they reached the item, they had to collect the correct sum of money from the purse and make their way to the checkout using their Bee-bot. During this example lesson, three main outcomes of the CfE could be achieved. These included; TCH 0-09a “I am developing problem-solving strategies, navigation and co-ordination skills, as I play and learn using electronic games, remote control or programmable toys”, MNU 0-09a “I am developing my awareness of how money is used and can recognise and use a range of coins” and also MTH 0-17a “In movement, games and using technology I can use simple directions and describe positions”.
The use of programmable toys within the classroom has many benefits to enhancing a child’s learning for many different subjects. The use of Bee-bots can be incorporated into literacy as it gives them the ability to create a story from following directions eg treasure, keys etc; maths as it gives them the ability to calculate a route and improve following directions; and also art as it gives them the ability to draw and create maps for the Bee-bots to follow. The use of the Bee-bot also improves a variety of other skills such as teamwork, problem solving (ie going from A to B without passing C) and also directional skills (ie left, right, forward, backward, north, south, east and west).
The National Centre for technology claims that “Floor robots in the classroom help with the development of skills such as a logical sequencing, measuring, comparing lengths, space orientation, and expressing concepts in words”. This shows that the use of these robots allows children to develop vital skills in a way that is engaging and allows participation for all pupils as it may be seen as a fun exercise for many.
Alison Lydon also claims that “[The children] gained independence faster than I anticipated. Twelve out of the 28 were able to use the Bee-Bot without any adult help after the initial instructions”. This shows that the use of programmable toys allows many children to work amongst themselves with very limited help from teachers. this allows them to work together and enhance their learning by working out sequences and patterns for themselves.
Overall, through investigating how these programmable toys work and how they can enhance the learning of a child, I was surprised as to how these toys can be incorporated into many different situations. It was a great opportunity to get to see other groups ideas for the design of their mats and how different aspects could be adapted or added to their mats depending on the age and stage of the children. The idea to make our mat slightly more challenging included having the shopping list in a foreign language which would then test the child’s knowledge of other languages. These robots are a very good way to engage pupils in enhancing a variety of skills, and is something I believe to be very useful in a child’s development within a classroom situation.
NCTE (National centre for Technology in Education) (2012) NCTE Floor Robots – Focus on Literacy & Numeracy.
[Online] http://www.ncte.ie/media/NCTE_Floor_robots_focus_on_literacy_numeracy_primary_12-06.pdf [Accessed: 15th January 2018]
ICTopus Article (2008) Sharing Good Practice: Robots in Early Education by Alison Lydon.
[Accessed: 15th January 2018]