Even in preschool, teaching problem solving to young children is an important activity that students enjoy. Thanks to some technological assistance, children in Janice Fuller’s preschool class learn estimation and problem solving skills with the help of four little yellow robots, known as Bee-Bots.
One early morning, preschool students were asked to estimate how many steps it would take for the robots to go from the starting line to the finish line. Students told Fuller their guesses, one exclaiming 100 steps, another said 10 steps. To figure out exactly how many steps were required, a student took out a measuring tape and counted, matching the step size to the distance.
Now the students were excited and wanted to see how close their guesses came to the actual result. They pressed forward and with anticipation pressed the forward button on a yellow robot ten times to make it take ten steps.
Gathered in a circle, the 15 preschoolers at the Academy of Early Learning were using their Bee-Bots for the first time. Bee-Bots are a new robot designed as a tool for teaching sequencing, estimation, numbering and problem solving to young students.
The Academy of Early Learning began using the robots last year as a way to engage students.
The Bee-Bot was created by John Heffernan, a technology teacher at Williamsburg schools, who authored “Elementary Robotics: Sustaining the Natural Engineering Instincts in Children.”
“Some of the skills we are seeing are amazing,” said Nancy Garlock, program coordinator. “Anytime you can present material in an exciting way, you’re going to engage students. The more engaged they are, the more they will learn.”
The robotics are in line with the new focus on STEM education — science, technology, engineering and math.
Students can enter up to 40 commands with directional keys to send a Bee-Bot forward, backward, left and right.