Integrating our coding and robotics program in Pre-K, or KA as we call it, is probably where I struggle the most because the students are so young! I started the first half of the year with some unplugged coding like in most grades but had the students be robots that we coded using actions or arm movements. This semester I managed to make a link between how we use the Bee Bots to teach both coding and other things like directional language, with our engineering program and the Engineering Design Process. Here’s how it all went!
Lesson 1: How can can we help the Bee Bot?
ASK: I showed the students a very short slideshow introducing the problem to the students. I added some animation to it to get the students engaged. They especially loved it when the Bee Bot flew around the page and could not find it’s beehive!
IMAGINE: As a class we briefly brainstomed ways to help the Bee Bot. Some said the Bee Bot should take a car, others thought that maybe we should carry the Bee Bot home!
PLAN: The teachers then prompted the students to think about possibly building a road or a path so that the Bee Bot will know exactly how to get home. But before we could build a road we needed to make a plan. Using the app Princess Fairy Tale Maker by Duck Duck Moose, the students worked with a partner to plann a road for the Bee Bot.
We emphasized that the Bee Bot can only move in straight lines so, we could not build curvy roads. We also further reinforced it by having students make straight lines with their arms in different directions. We showed students how to take turns with their partners, one partner drew the path the Bee Bot would take with straight lines, and the other partner drew the lines for each side of the road.
Lesson 2: Lets create our road!
CREATE: During the lesson studens had the chance to build their roads. We helped them out by using specifically cut squares that measured “1 Bee Bot” which is the unit of measure by which the Bee Bot moves forward or backward. Using these square the students followed their plans (we printed them out for the students) and then used blocks to outline either side of this road. Together we worked out the program to get the Beebot through the road by counting the squares.
Lesson 3: What’s the best way?
IMPROVE: In this third and final lesson, we will go over our designs and decide what is the SHORTEST way for the Bee Bot to get back home. In coding the objective is to figure out the most efficient code, using the least possible number of commands. So, in a roundabout way, we are introducing this concept to our KA students. But also, if we wanted to get home quickly, we obviously would need to figure out the shortest way home too.
The students managed to figure out rather quickly that the more turns they added to their roads, the longer the program. So, in an effort to include just one turn, students redesigned their roads and programmed the Bee Bot to go through it. Here is an example of a redesigned road:
During this last lesson we also encouraged some design to the roads to make sure that we incorporate the A in STEAM as well 😉 As you can see we have the addition of tunnels!