Floor robots can be programmed to move and change direction across the floor or a flat surface and are an excellent way of introducing young children to the principles of coding and computational thinking. Although the physical appearance of floor robots may be different, they function in a very similar way and the principles of programming them are broadly the same. There are a wide range of floor robots that are suitable for primary school pupils and they are currently popular in schools because:
- They provide a vehicle for the introduction of key programming concepts in an easy and friendly way.
- They help with the development of skills such as logical sequencing, measuring, comparing lengths, space orientation, expressing concepts in words.
- They encourage group interaction, conversation and collaboration.
- They are visually very appealing to young pupils, with clear, bright buttons and a robust design.
The BeeBot is the robot that most teachers would be familiar with but this year I investigated two alternative options for our school.
Botley The Programable Robot
Botley is a small square plastic robot on wheels that comes with a set of removable arms that can be used to complete different tasks. Four lights on the top correspond with different commands you can give the robot. He also comes equipped with a nine-button remote control. When you turn Botley on to his coding mode, you can use the remote to program and then transmit commands to him. Programming Botley is simple. On the remote there are four large buttons that represent commands such as move forward, backward, right or left. Children need only program the steps they want Botley to take and then tap the transmit button to send the code to Botley. Once Botley’s gets the code, he’ll make a little noise and begin executing the instructions.
Botley is a great introduction to coding and programming logic and is similar to BeeBot. The best part about Botley, though, is that its complexity is adjustable. If you have a very young child, like a pre-schooler, teaching him or her how to input basic two or three step commands is sufficient. However, for older children, Botley is capable of taking instructions over 100 steps long. Additionally, Botley has a button that allows children to code loops so that a set of instructions is repeated more than once, another important concept beginning coders must learn. Botley also includes an object detection mode that allows kids to execute If/Then type statements. With Object Detection mode activated, kids can program Botley to follow a different set of steps if he detects an object in his path. Botley ships with:
Detachable Robot Arms
40 Coding Cards
Starter Guide with Coding Challenges.
This short video shows you what Botley can do
While the BeeBot and Botley are designed for the younger child and are ideal to use with infants and junior classes what about floor robots for the senior classes?
The Input-Output-Bot (InO-Bot for short) has been specially designed to be used with the popular Scratch programming language. Children can design and create fun and challenging activities whilst developing their programming and debugging skills.
With a wide range of inputs and outputs to program, it is possible to challenge children to build sophisticated and clever programs. Once written, they can then see the program be performed right in front of them. InO-Bot connects via a Bluetooth connection and has a two-way communication so children can see the outputs respond in real time. The clear shell allows children to see the LEDs light up clearly and identify some of the components that make InO-Bot work. The InO-Bot is also rechargeable so you do not need to worry about replacing costly batteries.
KEY FEATURES include
- 8 RGB LEDs.
- 2 white LED headlights.
- Range finder sensor.
- 4 corner proximity sensors.
- Line follower sensors.
- Controlled using Scratch.
- Clear case to identify components.
- Pen holder to draw shapes.
This short video shows you what the InOBot can do