Monday, February 22, 2016
For Immediate Release
Dash and Dot Dance into the Engineering Design Practices
MITS would like to welcome our new helpers, Dash and Dot, to the MITS “staff”. Dash and Dot are programmable robots from Wonder Workshop that can be used to help introduce children to basic computer programming and coding skills.
Dash and Dot made their first public appearance with MITS at a New Bedford Program funded through grant from the Massachusetts Math and Science Project in December of 2015. During a week-long summer professional development institute, the MITS’ staff and Bristol Community College Faculty worked with the teachers to help them use coding languages including Alice, Scratch, and Starlogo Nova. To illustrate one of the applications of coding,
Dash and Dot were on-site to during the December follow-up session to show participants how the block programming they were already using could be used to control robots. They were programmed to move around the room, identify themselves, speak to one another, and zoom between tables. Dot and Dash can also be programmed to mimic animal and dinosaur noises and hold their own little light show! Given a xylophone they can be programmed to play a particular tune as well. Not only did Dash and Dot provide teaching and entertainment to the participants, they helped introduce a member of our staff to block programming who then had the pleasure (and fun!) of creating their presentation code.
Since then, the MITS’ staff have been working to incorporate coding and our robot friends into future programs. We recognize robots, and different coding programs, are excellent tools to engage students and pique their interest in coding and other STEM learning opportunities. As all of our staff have found, the robots make learning fun for all ages! While many programming platforms can be used to control images on a computer screen, programmable learning robots are 3-D interactive and engaging critters, and budding programmers are able to practice their programming skills to control these real-world robots alongside computer generated visual effects.
MITS has chosen Dash and Dot to help us introduce coding into classrooms, but there are many teaching robots available depending on budget, programming level, desired application, and age group. If incorporating programmable learning robots into your curriculum intrigues you, be sure to research the various learning bots available and choose the best one for your individual needs. For more information about different programmable robots we suggest you read “The 10 Best Educational Robots”.
MITS is a not-for-profit corporation that collaborates with formal and informal education institutions to provide STEM professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers and non-profit organizations across Massachusetts. Program offerings include week-long graduate level Summer Professional Development Institutes, day-long Professional Development Seminars and Customized School Services. For more information, visit www.mits.org.