Do you dislike getting stung by a bee? Chickering has bees but they don’t sting, in fact, they don’t even buzz! These bees are robots called BeeBots. They are used to teach kindergartners and first graders programming skills.
BeeBots are bee-shaped, simple robots. To program the robots you need to use the seven buttons on the top of the BeeBots: forward and back arrows, left and right arrows, go and pause buttons and a clear button. The students use the BeeBots with number, coins , shapes or letter mats and they also use blocks to create mazes. The students need to learn to be precise in their commands for the BeeBots. (Please click on the underlined words to see short video demonstrations.)
We were wondering why Mr. Harte was using robots with the kindergarten classes, so we asked for an interview. He explained that programming teaches students cause and effect and problem solving skills. It is challenging for kindergartners to work in groups but they learn to share, take turns, be patient with each other and with the BeeBots.
We were curious about how his instructions differ between kindergarten and grade 1 students. He gave us two examples. A simple task for kindergarten would be to program the BeeBots to go from a red circle to a blue square on a mat with shapes. First grade’s task would take a trick spelling word and program the BeeBot to stop on each letter, on a letter mat, to spell the word. The examples that Mr. Harte provided certainly gave us a good idea about how the programming gets more difficult as the children get older.
We were surprised how the BeeBots worked when we saw the students working with the robots. We were impressed with how well the students worked together. We were also amazed with how well the students programmed the BeeBots and they didn’t get frustrated when the robot didn’t do what they wanted. It would have been cool to have the experience of programming the robots when we were in kindergarten and first grade.
Reported by: Marley, Sophie, and George