Today was the first time we worked with a class of students to explore using the ProBots to address areas of the Maths and Digital Technologies Curriculum. Within Maths for Year 3, there are various areas of geometry that we were seeking to reinforce and explore – including units of measurement, angles as measures of turn, and key features of 3D shapes. Additionally, procedures are a focus in English at the moment, and so this was a third curriculum area in which concepts were being reinforced.
When we started we talked about how we would be learning about the language computers use to complete actions. We discussed how computers need very simple instructions to be able to complete functions we wish for them to complete. Everyone then gave the ‘TeacherBot’ (me) some instructions to enable me to move around a piece of furniture and come back to where I started. For those interested in computational thinking, we call this process ‘decomposition’.
After that we looked at the ProBots and how we would be using our iPads to support our inquiry on learning about squares and rectangles. I demonstrated taking a photo of the ProBot from a birds eye view, a side face view and a lower face view. I inserted them into my iBook and discussed the next step. The children would be working in groups, going to their stations where a ProBot awaited. Upon getting there, they would examine the ProBot and start compiling questions they would like answered about it. Each student would then have to record their one question as an audio file and add this to the page where the photos were displayed.
The groups reassembled and we discussed some of their questions and then how we might go about answering them. We explored the directional arrows and added a ‘forward’ instruction and executed this command. We talked about how one ‘forward’ command drove the bot a distance of 25 cm. We explored what would happen if we inputted multiple ‘forward’ instructions. We also explored the ‘turn’ instruction and how currently it was set to a ‘square corner’ turn.
Their task: to program the robot to trace a square with sides of 25 cm.
Extension: to reprogram to trace the path of a rectangle – of any size.
The depth of discussion and collaboration was impressive. It was nice to see children being challenged to think and consider each other’s input.
For someone working to map the Digital Technology content descriptors, it is interesting to look more broadly at the curriculum and to see that within Knowledge and Understanding area the content description is to ‘Recognise and explore digital systems (hardware and software components) for a purpose’ and this includes things such as:
- using different peripheral devices to display information to others, for example using a mobile device, interactive whiteboard or a data projector to present information
- using specific peripheral devices to capture different types of data, for example using a digital microscope to capture images of living and non-living things
- experimenting with different types of digital system components and peripheral devices to perform input, output and storage functions, for example a keyboard, stylus, touch screen, switch scan device or joystick to input instructions; a monitor, printer or tablet to display information; a USB flash drive and external hard drive as storage peripheral devices
- recognising that images and music can be transferred from a mobile device to a computer, for example using a cable to connect a camera and computer to upload images for a photo story
The use of the iPad to support our inquiry in this lesson provided much more scope for us to be address this area in addition to the areas within the Processes and Production skills area that are described in this post.