At the end of last year our school purchased a class set of Dash robots, accessory packs and xylophones. I couldn’t wait to use them in my lessons this year and could see clear links to be made between the year two History unit and the technology. In their own classrooms students were studying changes in technology over time. What better way to enhance this topic than to look at advancements in robotics over time and how progress in this field has benefited us? From this idea I devised the inquiry question, ‘How have robots changed over time and how do these changes help us in our daily lives?’
Our studies began by sharing prior knowledge and exploring timelines and types of robots as a whole class with the app Robots for iPad. Over a series of lessons, students participated in a range of activities to familiarise themselves with the Wonder Workshop apps and how to use code to control the Dash robots.
Coding Dash to drive in a square with the Blockly app
Dash obstacle course challenge in Blockly
For their final challenge and to revisit the question ‘How can robots help us in our daily lives?’, students were required to use their imaginations to visualise the site of an earthquake where a survivor was trapped in a maze of rubble. The challenge scenario explained that the site was too dangerous for rescue crews to navigate and therefore it was up to Dash to save the day. Using the Blockly app, Dash’s first task was to shovel fallen rocks away from the entrance to the maze of rubble. Without touching its unstable walls, he then had to locate and rescue the survivor, carrying them to safety. Upon exiting the ruins Dash was to perform a victory song in the Xylo app, to celebrate a successful mission.
The final challenge
While this was a pretend scenario, some fabulous critical discussions followed, where students applied knowledge gained throughout the term to suggest ways that Dash could be altered in order to help us in a range of real life situations. Throughout the unit it was these types of critical and reflective discussions that cemented students’ learning and made it purposeful.