This week was fun! We split the group in half and had activities in two different areas of the school. In Mrs. Allen's classroom, we experienced the Dance Party Challenge where students were able to learn about and realize the benefit of clear, concise, short codes. Using the Blockly App and their robots they made a dance routine to fun music. There was even a disco ball involved! Kids started jamming and dancing right along with their robotic friends! It was awesome!
In the gym we opened our brand new launchers that Mrs. G ordered from Wonder Workshop. We figured out how to attach the launcher to Dash's body and practiced launching the included ping pong balls all over the room. We discovered that you can make launches using the Wonder App or the Blockly App. The challenge was to see how to launch the farthest. Then we had a contest to see who's launching skills surpassed everyone else's. It was a blast!
We got our large game mats out again for today's meeting. We wanted students to play Capture the Kingdom again and see if they could make any revisions to their gaming process to make it go smoother. Students decided to bring whiteboards with them as they played so they could easily keep score. Some also decided to use Everyday Math cards instead of a regular deck of cards to use higher numbers to make the addition problems more difficult to calculate. They used their white boards to formulate number sentences that went with the squares their Dash robot could land on when using only 4 blocks of code with the Blockly App. These improvements helped and I could tell the third and fourth graders were even more engaged.
Students finished playing the game quite quickly with these new revisions, so they started to design some more games of their own. One club member team created a soccer game using Dot as the ball and the large bunny ear accessory to control the ball to make a goal on the other end of the mat. Soon all of the club students wanted to join the fun, so they created a whole class game putting the large game mats altogether. I love what these students can come up with when giving the time and opportunity to figure out things on their own!
At the end of our time together this week, we had an informational parent meeting about our upcoming educational technology conference (MACUL) at the Cobo Center in Detroit. We are so excited to show off our robotics skills and show educators from all over the state how Dash and Dot Robots can enhance learning in any educational environment. We went over logistics, made sure everyone has RSVP'd and talked about expectations. It is going to be so much fun! The club members are super excited and also don't mind taking a day off of school to go! :)
Our favorite part of this week's meeting was the snack. Yes, the snack! Jennifer Bond, a club member parent, teacher and fellow educational technology expert created the cutest snack that the coaches and students loved. They were almost too cute to eat! We really appreciate Jennifer and everything she has done to help with our Robotics Club. Look at these awesome, yummy treats:
We also gave students free choice time during our meeting this week. Students could choose building with blocks, construct with legos, use the accessories, play the xylophone and bowling. They enjoyed the opportunity to just explore the way they wanted to.
Mrs. G ordered 10 miniature bowling sets so our Dash and Dot robots could experience this awesome sport. The challenge - teams must use code in the Blockly App to make the pins come down! This was harder than it looked. Using duck tape on the floor, Dash's starting point needed to be exactly 3 feet away from the pins. Students used trial and error over and over again to see what code worked to get a strike.
As an avid Pinterest user, I came across a great pin for using Dash and Dot in a game called Capture the Kingdom. After watching and reading about educator, Jake Lee we decided to try out his game and take it a step further for third and fourth graders. We played the game with the following rules:
Students played with paper mats that were created with large sheets of paper. Then, they had to invent their own game. Some students decided to incorporate multiplication in their game. Some students turned their mat into a soccer field and used Dot as a ball. It was interesting to see what teams were able to come up with valid rules and an obtainable end result. It was a great learning experience, for sure!
This week's club meeting was our favorite so far! The students really outdid themselves with their creativity and persistence! Students brought in Legos and we borrowed a few bins from teachers in the building. When the club members came into the room and started eating their snack. We could tell they were excited with the agenda they saw posted on the smartboard screen.
Using the ear caps, students could attach legos and build on top of robots' heads. They worked together in their teams and constructed for about 20 minutes. The end result was fantastic. We presented each creation to each other and then the club members voted on the best one. See the gallery of photos below of what each team came up with:
Next, club members had to figure out how to make Dash draw with using legos, rubber-bands and markers. We did not give any instruction on this - they had to figure it out for themselves! It was fun! All of them figured it out with some accidentally drawing on the gym floor. Yikes! Good thing they were washable markers!
Our meeting this week kind of went in an unexpected direction. We were planning on doing the DJ Dot Challenge created by Wonder Workshop specifically for clubs, but the students were just not into it. They just wanted to PLAY. Mrs. G and Mrs. Allen decided to just "wing it" and let them have some unstructured time to become more familiar with their machine friends. They enjoyed it and it was nice to take a step back and realize that club activities should be driven by the students themselves rather than us constantly giving them direction and tasks to accomplish. As our meeting progressed, students wanted to invent games as they played and we created a whole group game of Dash, Dash, Dot (duck, duck, goose) and had a few races. The club members loved it and were completely engaged.
Club members were very excited to attend this week's meeting. We opened and played with the accessory packs! The accessory pack includes a bulldozer bar, bunny ears, bunny tail and a tow hook. We also programmed Dash to play the xylophone. The accessory I think that the children liked the most was the ear accessory that held my iphone where they could take a video of whatever Dash sees in his path when he is programmed to navigate around the room. I was surprised by this. The club members are definitely digital natives and seeing the world in a camera view is not only something they are used to, but also they really enjoy.
To advance our Blockly coding skills even further, this week we made obstacle courses with any objects found in the classroom. Students had to build a course for their Dash robot to go through while programming their robot using code. This is much harder than it looks! With a lot of teamwork, persistence and dedication they were happy with the end result and so were the robotics club coaches.
During this meeting we began to watch and follow a few Dash and Dot Youtube channels while eating our snack before we play. The club members have discovered that they really enjoy the Dash and Dot Show. This very entertaining Youtube channel created by kids gave us many ideas that we want to try. We hope to eventually have our own Youtube channel as well to show how creative we can be. The first Dash and Dot episode can be seen below:
To celebrate Computer Science Education Week we utilized the Blockly App through Wonder Workshop to give students the opportunity to learn coding with the Dash and Dot robots. Blockly is a drag and drop visual programming tool where kids can perform challenges or create their own programs for Dash and Dot to do. In many of their regular third and fourth grade classes, club members had the chance to try out programs and games at hourofcode.com. Many of the activities that are offered on this site are perfect introductions to coding and we were able to reinforce those concepts with the Blockly App. This app looks and feels very similar to the blocks of code used at the website, and the students were able to grasp concepts easily and show their learning through programming their robots.
Club members wore their newly purchased T-shirts for the first time at this meeting. We love these shirts and wore them proudly. Having the shirts really gave us a sense of unity and belonging and they are also super cute!