The Ashland Beacon
Students weren’t the only thing buzzing around as Bee-Bots took over Cherie Carr’s classroom after being awarded a grant for the new interactive technology.
Carr, a science teacher at Greysbranch Elementary in Lloyd, Kentucky, has been teaching for 18 years and teaching elementary science for the past six years. "So much has changed since I first started teaching, we now live in a world that is very technology based that is much more fast-paced and demands more from our students,” Carr said. “It's so advanced that we are teaching things in the first grade that we used to teach in the fourth grade.”
Carr applied for a grant that obtained three "Bee-Bots" to use in her class. A Bee-Bot is a colorful, easy to use robot designed by young children to teach elementary aged students sequencing, estimation and problem-solving skills, while also having fun while they are learning. Students push the buttons on the top of the little bee, press GO and watch as the bee follows their every command. The bee is ideal for teaching cause and effect, directional language and early programming also known as Coding. The robotic bee can carry out 40 commands such as forward, backward and turning left and right. The Bee-Bot blinks and beeps at the finish of each command.
"Studies and statistics show that students, especially girls, start to lose interest in Science as they near the fourth grade, so I'm always looking for creative and innovative ways to keep students interested and engaged in class," Carr said.
When using the bees in the classroom, the students are divided into teams of four, where each person has a specific role (Reporter-the person that records the team's answers, Map Reader-the person that reads instructions and clues, Leader-the person that makes sure that everyone gets along and asks questions for the team, and the Materials Supervisor-the person that gathers the supplies needed for the assignment). Nine-year-old fourth-grader, Kaia Royster, said the Bee-Bots have helped her remember more and really keeps her attention in class.
The bees have been used in class to learn many different things and subjects, such as; how the heart functions, the skeletal system, and in creative games such as "Escape Room," where students must answer questions and find clues to break the code on a locked box where they receive a prize when the team opens it with the correct code.
Recently, the students used the bees to answer questions about Landforms. The students were asked, "What is the removal of rock particles by natural processes such as moving rivers and streams?" The students then had to agree on the correct answer and then program the Bee-Bot to make its way from its current position to the square that contained the correct answer, Erosion, which was located on a large chart on the table.
Experience with Bee-Bots is a way to teach and expose students to Coding, which is a fundamental key in our youth's education nowadays. Coding is a skill set that students can use for future careers and can improve soft skills like perseverance and problem-solving skills that educators emphasize. Coding is beneficial to students struggling with reading and math and can empower students when they learn how to do things with it; such as create digital media and share it with others. Natalie Reed, a fourth-grader, said she loves using the Bee-Bots because it makes learning fun and it helps her with coding which will make her a better member of the school's LEGO Robotic Team.
"I help my younger brother with his homework and I want to be a teacher when I grow up because I like to teach and I'm kind of bossy," Reed said.
"Students are more experienced than ever at using computer-based equipment due to today's technological world, it's amazing how students respond to "hands-on" learning and how advanced their computer operating skills are as compared to 10 years ago,” Carr said. “Everything is technology based these days and almost all new job fields require technological training and experience.”
Carr said she has enjoyed seeing her students inspired and excited to learn.
“The students retain information and learn better with hands-on activity,” Carr said.
Carr loves that the Bee bots also promote group activity. She's witnessed students working together that typically didn't socialize together and has watched students making decisions as a team as opposed to individual ones and them communicating and having real conversations as to why they do or don't support those decisions.
“My biggest reward is when I see a student that was never engaged and never showed any interest in class actually enjoy what we are doing and participating,” Carr said. “I've seen 100 percent engagement and it's better than anything I've ever imagined."