@SamPatue Shares thoughts on Programming Robots in the Primary Grades to Capture Young Imaginations

The more I collaborate with great teachers the more I am convinced that teaching is a team sport.  I am lucky this year because I get to work with Megan, the STEM coordinator for the lower grades as well as 8 other problem solving roles.  Megan and I share many students and we work to integrate our work whenever possible.

One good idea can make my week

Neither of us has time for real meetings, but we make good use of out time.  This week Megan gave me my best robot lesson yet.  It came in a text, I think she was riding the train home.  Looked at the text in the evening and only focused on it again around the time I took this screenshot.
I was planning for the second grade class that begins at 8:30.
Balance, Forces, Sphero on an incline.  Oh, I was all over this.

So I set up as many multi-user inclined surfaces as I could. even re-purposing a decommissioned smart board.  When I started prepping for class I thought I would just use the white board.  It was bad, so bad I had to take a picture.  Obviously at some point in the morning my coffee kicked in and I actually made a slide deck to help the kids focus.  (they got really excited when they heard Spheros were on the menu.)

We paired the students up and had them explore the various planes, including a small personal whiteboard and a plastic block.

The energy in the room was awesome, and the students really experienced dynamics of power needs and an inclined plane.

One of my favorite moments was when a student explained that if they used the whiteboards at a shallower angle the Spheros could make it farther up the ramp.  This was just an “into” activity for the force unit, we didn't spend much time on vocab, we got to the heart of understanding inclined planes.

The robots allowed us to quantify our exploration, as one of the students observed “We could go up that ramp at 30, but the other one we couldn't do even at 100.”

What science concepts could you explore with robots?  Leave a comment and let's make some plans together.

About the author, Sam

Sam is Makerspace coordinator at Echo Horizon School, the nicest little school on Los Angeles' West Side. In the classroom since '02 Sam has taught grades PreK-12. Every lesson is a writing lesson.

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