Making a scribble bot is one of the most basic forms of robots. It has become even more popular with the spread of the Maker Movement. The reasons to do this particular activity at the beginning of a school year are many including but not restricted to teaching:
- Cooperative work/Teamwork
- Community building
- Perseverance (very rarely does it work at the first shot)
- Resilience (for the same reason)
- Independence & self-confidence
- Basics of circuitry
Last week all the three fourth grade classes worked on this activity in the Maker Studio.
The activity can be done in one of two ways:
- Give directions to the students and they follow them.
- Provide the materials and ask the students how they would go about it. What could they do with it?
The fourth grade teachers and I decided to go with the former as the students needed scaffolding. This is the video that I normally like to show them (there are many out there but this one explains the process really well). At the end of the video, we discussed the fact that the instructor in the video makes it look easy and that it is more than likely that their bot will not work at the first try. We then brainstormed strategies for problem solving, as well as discussed what they could do when they forgot the directions.
We also discussed why the students had brought their iPads (assigning 3 to a group, 1 person in the group was assigned to carry his/her iPad).
It was quite amazing to see that the simplest of answers (that they could use the iPads to take photos and videos of the activity in question) took a long time to guess in some cases. It was a conscious decision to have 1 iPad per group as 1 per person could cause the focus to move to the iPad pictures rather than the activity.
They also did get back stating that they could re-watch the instructional video if they forgot the steps or were confused. Giving them that option is important as some students do need the extra processing time or just need to review the directions. It did take some prompting to let them know that they were not coming to any of the adults unless they were absolutely frustrated which could happen.
It was important to discuss what happens to the bots at the end. They don’t go home because the motors stay in school as do the batteries for reuse.
What is teamwork? That was a discussion worthy of time before students took off on making the bots.
Each of the three classes performed differently. One was quick to get going and all the teams got their bots working. One class had just one bot working of the lot whereas the third was done by all teams but one. In some cases the students found that the bot worked initially , then didn’t. The interesting aspect was when asked how many would return the next week to get it working or get it better, there were some who just didn’t want to try again.
When the activity was completed, the pictures and videos got uploaded to Schoology. A discussion for debriefing/reflecting the activity was also uploaded to Schoology for each of the students to respond to and of course, having the pictures and videos there to remind them of the activity will help immensely.