The Kindy and Junior classes have been making friends with six yellow programmable robots and teaching them how to race, land in a target and perform complex instructions.
And all with just a touch of a button!
The happy little robots are called Bee-Bots and we've been making good use of the Digital Media Laboratory to introduce the students to the elements of programming in a fun, interesting and often competitive way.
Bee-Bots have seven buttons on top. Students start by pressing clear to clear all previous instructions.
They then press the forward, reverse, right turn / left turn and pause buttons in sequence to make the Bee-Bots travel forward, reverse, make a quarter turn to the right or left or to pause for a few seconds.
By combining the button presses the robots can navigate obstacle courses, race each other, trace out patterns or even (very slowly) dance!
The UK has recently made computer programming an integral part of their school curriculum and the US is emphasising the need for students to become more computer literate not only as 'drivers' of software but 'under the hood', learning how to program.
Bee-Bots are a simple, hands-on approach for introducing programming and if the rapped attention of our students was anything to go by, a very successful one.
Bee-bots at home
Along with programming, Bee-Bots develop other skills such as directions, spatial reasoning, estimation, relative positioning, patience, teamwork and experimentation through trial and error.
If your child would like to develop their Bee-Bot skills at home there's a great free app for the iPad called Bee-Bot with lots of puzzles to be solved using an on-screen Bee-Bot.
You can see a review here:
Please note the link opens the US iTunes store. Search for the app on your Apple device for an Australian download.