Last Friday I attended Family Science Night at the local library in town. I’d offered to help out a mom with her two boys. Since I don’t have kids of my own, I really wanted to go. Carnegie had sent a representative to set up various hands-on stations for families based around robotics. Since I’m starting a coding club at the elementary level, I was looking for any ideas that I could use with my younger kids.

I definitely found my idea.

Pictured above is Bee-Bot (found here: https://www.bee-bot.us/bee-bot/bee-bot/beebot.html). Bee-Bot is a robot that you can program to follow a particular path. Basically, input the instructions first, then press the “Go” button. Let’s say I wanted Bee-Bot to go forward and backward 2 times. I’d press the up button, then the down button, then the up button, and finally the down button. Once I was certain my code was input correctly, I’d press “Go” and watch him in action. In order to give Bee-Bot new directions, I’d press “Clear” and start again.

Bee-Bot would make a perfect addition to the board games I already have for unplugged coding. I already have Robot Turtles, Code Monkey Island, and RoboRally. Since I’m also using the Code.org curriculum with my students, there are many unplugged activities in addition to the lessons on the computer. I can see myself using Bee-Bot to teach students how solve challenges or obstacles that they face. The website does sell mats, but I can have my students design their own paths for the Bee-Bot and then see if they can input the directions for Bee-Bot to follow. They’d get quick feedback since Bee-Bot wouldn’t do the course or challenge correctly if his instructions were wrong.

Each Bee-Bot is $89.95 plus shipping, so I’m going to run a DonorsChoose campaign after school is in session. With the amount of feedback that I have gotten on beginning a coding club in the elementary school, I’m sure I can acquire the funding easily. I’m going to get two of these little guys. I have always been able to get my projects funded in the first week, and I don’t see a problem doing that again this time around, as I’ll need to collect about $125 and have that matched. I’ve already gotten PTO on board with helping as well.

If you already use Bee-Bot to teach coding skills, what are your suggestions for incorporating it into a K-5 coding club?

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