The Career/Skills Development Committee for Fraser-Cascade School District 78 (SD78) has been brainstorming new ways to extend career education to younger students and one innovation has been pitched by district vice principal of the committee – Bee-Bots.
Small bee-like, programmable robots work on a grid system and have directional keys for kids to enter up to 40 commands that send the Bee-Bot forward, back, left or right. Designed to help kids learn about counting, sequencing, estimation and problem-solving, Koslowsky says Bee-Bots are perfect for getting kids to think about programming and coding at a pre-kindergarten level.
“I think its about seeing the opportunities,” he says. “If they’re into gaming…now they’re thinking, ‘oh, I could write a game about this.’”
“There’s also the strategy, the collaboration, the conversation [and] that’s the bigger part at the junior level,” Koslowsky adds. “Getting to think outside the box on how to solve things.”
“If all I ever give them is simple math on a work sheet, where’s the real life situation where [they] need to apply different strategies and thinking? Now, this is it- because I have to get my robot– or my bee– from here to there.”
The Bee-Bot grid could be used in a variety of ways, Kolowsky says. “You could do letters, you could do numbers, you could do houses, you could do colours.”
From math questions to maps, programming the bot could give kids a chance to learn about the basics behind technology that surrounds them.
“The kids could come up with different strategies of how to get down the road through the back alleys, through a yard or whatever…or you could have it as a math question- here’s the question– now program your bee to go to the right answer,” says Koslowsky.
The District Career/Skills Development Committee recently shifted its focus from older grades to encompassing students from kindergarten through to grade 12.
“It was never part of the [kindergarten] curriculum to learn about careers before,” says Koslowsky. But now even kindergartners can start thinking about careers as the committee moves support mechanisms all the way further down to pre-K, he adds.
Koslowsky hopes to obtain funding from the committee to purchase Bee-Bots for the district.