Bee-Bots Swarm East Montpelier
At East Montpelier Elementary, primary grade students have been learning how to program without using a computer through their work with Bee-Bots in math and science. They input code using buttons on a programmable plastic robot, which takes the commands to perform tasks.
As the name implies, Bee-Bots are bee colored and shaped, about the size of a grapefruit, and have wheels on their underside and a simple directional keypad on their back. Directional keys are used to enter up to 40 commands, which send the Bee-Bot forward, back, left, and right in 15 cm increments. Pressing the green GO button starts the Bee-Bot on its way. Bee-Bots blink and beep at the conclusion of each command to allow children to follow a Bee-Bot through the program they have entered and then confirms its completion with lights and sound.
“The Bee-Bots are being integrated into science, mathematics, and library instruction with grades preK-3,” Library/Media & Tech Integration Specialist, Arlyn Bruccoli notes. “For example, our third graders used Bee-Bots during a multiplication lesson where students worked collaboratively to program Bee-Bot to reach a numeric destination on a board. Kindergarten students have also used Bee-Bots during math when working on the concept of before and first graders have programmed the bee to move to different phases of the moon shown on a large mat.”
STEM may be a buzzword in academics, but technology cannot, in the modern age, be ignored as an integral part of daily life. Smart use of technology raises it out of the consumer-driven entertainment we often see as a distraction and builds the educational platform for true critical thought when interacting with our modern, beeping, blinking world. As the adorable plastic bees move across the mat, landing on the target area, students cheer on their successful programming. The kindergartner at EMES who sees her program dance out its commands today wearing yellow and black stripes feels like she’s playing - and often that is what great learning feels like.