We had our second robotics lesson down in the first grade today, and before too much time passes I want to share a few activities from weeks one and two. Any of these activities could be easily modified to be more age appropriate or to be used for different subject matter.
Activity 1: “Computer Says”
To help first graders make the connection that robots must receive commands in order to operate, I borrowed an idea from members of the Robotics Outreach at Lincoln Laboratory (ROLL) who had visited a first grade classroom to introduce students to the concepts of programming and robotics. (Read about their visit!)
The activity is simple… replace “Simon Says” with “Computer Says”.
Say, “I am the computer. You are the robots. Robots can only move if they receive a command from the computer. If you move without a command, I will have to power you down.” I used it both weeks for one or two minutes. The kids love it and the idea that a command must be sent to a robot has stuck! I’m a bit of a goofball, so I like to give my commands in a robot voice.
Activity 2: Robot K-W-L in Voicethread
I love Voicethread and I love K-W-L charts, and they work beautifully together. To keep track of our learning during the unit I set up a new Voicethread account and created an identity for each of the first grade students using the image of a cartoon or comic robot for their avatars. These avatars were also printed under their name on each of their name tags.
The layout of the Voicethread is super basic. It has three slides in total. Each one features an image of a robot. Slide 1 is titled “What do we know about robots?”, Slide 2 is titled, “What do we want to learn about robots?” and Slide 3 is titled, “What have we learned about robots?”
When a child has something to add, they come up and find their robot identity, they share their idea and I take dictation and type their ideas. Eventually we will move into recording their voices in place of typing comments.
You can visit our Voicethread and see what it looks like after three class periods. On day 1, we did not have Internet access, so I kept track of their ideas on the board and added them later. (I wish I could embed the thread, but WP doesn’t allow it, so you’ll need to click this link to see it.) 1649945
Activity 3: Prezi Story – Jerome’s Dirty Floors
I always look for ways to include literacy in lessons and this week’s lesson provided a great opportunity for a story. I couldn’t find any stories that featured the concepts I wanted to introduce, so I wrote a story to accompany the lesson. I created a Powerpoint of the story, but then I remembered that I had seen Prezi used for storytelling and thought I should give it a try.
It was a fun way to create a flow to the story and it kept the students engaged. I was able to have a student do the page turning by clicking the next arrow, and I could embed a video as well.
Click on the Prezi image below to take the story for a test drive! ( Special thanks to the folks at ProfessionGenie for giving me permission to modify one of their images for my main character, Jerome, the mechanical engineer. )