Back in Science Week in March I revisited one of my regular customers, a large junior school in Corby. I’d been asked to do an assembly and some robotics workshops for their Year 6 classes. Fitting four workshops into one school day was quite a challenge. They had a room I could use so there wasn’t any traipsing the robots from one class to the next, which was really helpful. When I arrived in the hall to set the robots out for the assembly I was reminded that actually it would be totally full when the children arrived, so there wasn’t quite as much floor space to play with as I thought there might be. Next year I’m definitely getting some video or staging or something so the kids at the back can see properly. Still, the talk on robots that go to dangerous places seemed to be a hit and there were some really good questions from the children.
I use Ozobots and Edisons in most of my school workshops because of their relative affordability and reliability. They are also really accessible, in the sense that younger children, and those with special needs, can get as much out of them as older ones. The fact that they both do really cool things also helps a lot. The workshops were an hour long, and were just an introduction to the robot, followed by some simple programming using a block based language that is very similar to Scratch. Ozobots are able to follow lines on paper and iPads, and they read colour changes as instructions, as well as being programmable. Edisons can do this and more, having more sensors, and also include the ability to change algorithms from, say, a light follower, to an obstacle avoider, by means of driving the robot over a big bar code. We started by having a play with the robot doing its own unique thing. Then we went on to use the OzoBlockly and EdBlocks programming apps to make the robots do something cool. The aim was to get them to follow a specific course, but I was happy, and the children were happy, just to see the robot do something that they’d asked it to.
A couple of weeks after the event, I was delighted to receive a whole sheaf of thank-you letters from the children. Here are some verbatim quotes from just a few of them:
My favourite part was your assembly, it was really interesting, the part that shocked me the most was when you said that two robots were sent into space to look for evidence of life on other planets, and they are still going, this just showed me how much robots can do – Talia R
I thought it was so much fun programing Eddison (I really hope that was there name) it was so intresting and facinating – Brooke R
My favourite bit was the programming, I even managed to make mine sing – Filip B
My absolute favourite part was at the end of the session when we were able to programme the robots. Me and my partner (Timea) were the first ones to programme it and we also made it dance. I wish I had a robot of my own. – Annie
Thank you for coming to our school and showing us your fantastic robots; my favourite part was when you were with my class and we did coding with Ederson. Over all the assembly and the coding were brilliant. – Steven S