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Introduction to Dash & Dot

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Keywords: technology, computers, robotics
Subject(s): Robotics
Grades P-K through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
View Full Text of Standards
School: Iola Roberts Elementary School, Pell City, AL
Planned By: Lisa Richie
Original Author: Lisa Richie, Pell City
Hide Dash & Dot in the classroom before the students arrive. They should be programmed to speak to the students.

Tell the students that Dash and Dot are robots.

What do students know about robots? What comes to mind when they hear the term ‘robot’? Have they seen robots in their everyday lives? In the movies?
A robot is a machine that gathers information about its environment (senses) and uses that information (thinks) to follow instructions to do work (acts).
Tell students that robots have sensors to sense what is happening around or to them. For example, Dash can sense objects, button pushes, and sounds. Dot can sense button pushes, sounds, and when Dot is tilted or shaken.

Dash has a computer that helps take that information and figure out what to do. Robots can only do things that they have instructions to do or have instructions that let them learn to do (this is artificial intelligence!). Dash and Dot need explicit instructions to do or respond to anything.

Talk to students about what a program is and how they work in a broad way.

A program is a step-by-step guide for a computer (like a robot) to know what to do and how to react.
We write programs for Dash and Dot so they know exactly what we want them to do.
Ask students “What are some things that a robot can be programmed to do?”

Examples: Factory robots are used to perfectly manufacture parts and assemble products, the Curiosity rover can be controlled over vast distances to drive over rough terrain, take pictures, and collect samples of rock and dirt from the surface of Mars, some robots in Japan can play a musical instrument, and cars that can drive themselves are now a reality.
Ask students “What are some things that a robots can’t do?”

Examples: Robots can’t be programmed to have authentic emotions, learn something that they haven’t been programmed to learn, or reproduce in the way that animals do.
Unplugged activity - Puppeteer

First demonstrate this activity with you, the teacher, as the ‘puppet’ and the class giving instructions.

Pass out Puppeteer Sheet 1. Make students believe that you have not seen what is on the sheet. Instruct students to direct you to draw the sketch on the sheet. Show students how specific the instructions need to be.

The instructions must include quantity and specificity.
If a student says “draw a circle,” draw a tiny circle, or if a student says “draw a circle inside of a square,” make the square much larger than the circle to show that size is required.
If a student says “draw a circle and a square,” draw the shapes side-by-side, or if a student says “draw an arrow”, draw it far from the other objects, or at the wrong angle to show that position is required.
Then, pair students up and give one student in each group Puppeteer Sheet 2. This student is the puppeteer of the group. Instruct puppeteers to make sure their partner does not see the sketch on the sheet. Instruct puppeteers to direct their partner to draw the figure on the sheet.

Alternatively, you can have students perform a different task.

Collect objects of a particular size, shape, or color from all around the classroom, and place them in a certain configuration
Build a house of cards, with particular cards showing
Create an object with a set of tangram pieces
Reorganize a set of objects, including rotating them a certain way
Our goal is to create a learning community within a classroom. Students who can reflect about their process are deeply involved in their learning. When we go through criteria and goal setting with students, self-evaluation is the next logical step in the learning process.
Links: Link to Wonder Workshop
Materials: Mobile Labs
Other Items: 1 Dash & Dot Pack, $199.95 each, total of $199.95