When a 4th Grade student started to choke on a chicken bone her friends programmed Roamer to make a dramatic life-saving dash to the hospital. Teacher and Roamer enthusiast Michael Raby set this and other problems for his students to solve in a wonderfully playful lesson.
Students used the Primary Roamer with the standard 20 cm movement unit and set the robot to rotate in quarter turns. They then laid out the streets, with blue tape, based on the 20cm grid pattern.
Once I laid out the town the students:
I then assigned some funny challenges: One group decided to skip school, go to Burger King and then to the park to eat lunch. The police visited the school, got their names and descriptions and went to find them. As the others ate lunch one student “choked on a chicken bone”. The Roamer ambulance had to rush them to the hospital. Raby then started adding traffic disruptions by throwing in roadblocks and closing streets for construction.
I added, the tiles on my floor are 12X24 inches (roughly 30X60 cm). So my lesson included unit measurement, multiplying by 10, metric conversion and basic programming. For unit measurement I had them figure out the easiest way to find out how far a roamer goes each unit forward. They could make the robot move 1 unit and try to measure it, or go 10 units and measure the total distance and divided that by 10 to get a more accurate measure. I explained if I based their grades on one test on which they did poorly, I would not get an accurate view of their understanding of the subject. But if we did 10 tests and averaged the scores I’d get a better view of their real grade, even with one poor result. This applies to finding out Roamer’s units of movement. I could’ve told them Roamer it is 20 centimetres, but it’s educationally better for them to figure out how to discover the value.
The students found the assignment fun. If I’d started by telling the students the lesson topics they would’ve resisted. Using Roamer allowed me to disguise these lessons as play. Instead of, “No way you can’t make me learn this stuff”, I had engaged students. They eagerly learnt about measurement, planning and how to write and test programs to solve problems.