Wonder Workshop Dash - a Super Cool Robot to Have in your Classroom
This robot is called Dash and it is a super cool robot to have in your classroom. It can interact with other robots, and, with its three microphones and speakers, it allows students to record in real-time and playback. There are LEDS and buttons that can be customized and there are two powered wheels which allows the robot to quickly navigate and track its distance on nearly all surfaces. The robots also feature strong processors and sensor fusion, enabling students to control the robot at different speeds and in all directions. There are many activities that can enhance learning across a range of subjects with this robot, and here are a few that you can try out yourselves.
Focus Area: Expressive Arts (music)
This robot has a xylophone attachment so students can use it to learn and play music! Simply connect ‘Dash’ via bluetooth to a tablet and students can play pre-recorded songs, modify pre-recorded songs or create songs of their own. Younger students can use the device by touching the screen and seeing their music being played by the robot. Older students can create their own music by coding ‘Dash’ to play more complicated songs. This activity provides a great opportunity for students to learn music and coding at the same time.
Focus Area: Maths (probability)
A great activity for students aged 7-12 is learning probability with a dice and ‘Dash’ with arms. Students can program the robot to throw a dice and record which number the dice landed on. By repeating this process multiple times, the students can collect data about the number of times each number appeared and then use this to make generalised statements about the probability of landing on the different numbers. This introduces the concept of random chance to the students. To further extend students in this activity, they can explore whether the probability of the dice landing on different numbers changes when the code for throwing the dice is altered.
Focus Area: Science (forces)
The ‘Dash’ robot’s attached arms can also be used to pick up and move things around. This activity can be used to deepen students’ understanding of forces, including gravity. Start by asking students to collect a range of classroom objects of different sizes and weights and weight these accurately using scales. Once the weights have been recorded in a table, students can try to pick up the objects with the ‘Dash’ robot and record in the table whether this was possible or not. Students can then pick up the objects with a Newton meter to find out the force (in Newtons) required to lift each object. Students can then use this information to make hypotheses about how gravity impacts the abilities of the robot and how gravity acts on objects of different weights and sizes.
To further extend students’ learning, challenge them to modify their robot by changing the angle of the arms, collect results and make hypotheses about what they observed and reasons why they think this occurred. Students could also explore with objects of the same size but different weight.
These activities will support students to better understand the relationship between weight and gravity.
Focus Area: Literacy (forces)
You can also support the development of students’ literacy skills by using ‘Dash’s’ ability to record and playback to build and share collaborative stories. To do this, students can work in pairs or in a group to plan a story that includes their robots. For younger students, this could be a simple story in which students plan out a beginning, middle and ending. For older students, this could be done using the story mountain to plan a 5-part story.
Once the main outline of the story has been planned, students will need to program their robot characters to fit into their story. To do this, students would need to explore the character of their robot and, for older students, how this is developed throughout the story. Students would need to think about language to describe their character, and use this to plan how their character will speak and move, what sort of things their character will say, what type of voice their character uses and what sort of things their character does.
Students can be further developed by considering and developing the relationship between the characters in the story and collaborating to plan how their characters will interact. This can further support work on direct and reported speech, synonyms for said and the development of characters and relationships through the use of speech in a story. Students can pre-record the speech of their character to be played back in the acting out of the story.
Once students have considered the age-appropriate story elements and developed their stories in more detail, they will need to collaborate to perform their story and bring their work to life. This could further be video recorded to play back for self-assessment or to share with other members of the class or families at home.
Focus Area: Maths (direction)
A great activity for Early Years students is to use the robot for a fun matching game about directions. Students can be given one set of cards with pictures of arrows and another set of cards featuring specific code that they will have to match together in pairs. To support with this, students could input the code into the robot and run the code to help them to identify the arrow(s) that represent the movement made.
A more challenging matching game would involve students being shown the movement of the robot, for example straight and turn right, and the student would have to write the code that would make the robot move in that way. After writing the code, students can run it and check and fix any bugs if required. These activities are great for younger students as they encourage students to develop their understanding of position and direction while also building up their coding ability.
In conclusion, the ‘Dash’ robot is a highly valuable Primary classroom tool. It can make simple activities more fun and make learning more engaging, particularly for younger students.