My next review will be on Bee-Bot. This programme is available as a download from the iTunes App Store. The app, which is created by TTS Group is free and mirrors their popular, well-loved floor robots, but now available in this online medium. It also seems to have free level updates occasionally (they have just recently) so there are new, exciting levels for children to tackle.
Both the floor Bee-Bots and online app are designed to teach children the beginnings of coding and programming and teaching directional language. The app incorporates several levels which start at the “easier” end and become increasingly difficult. I like this idea with children as I feel it can cater to all abilities and allows for differentiation.
The interface is fun yet simple. I think particularly with younger children, more KS1, its helpful not to have too “busy” a screen, as the focus is then on the programming task and children will not become distracted. The idea is that children programme the “Bee-Bot” to move through the desired path without bumping into anything around it. This involves children inputting a set of commands to programme the direction the Bee-Bot will move. It may be quite difficult for children to remember exactly what they have inputted, so I would ask children to write down their commands as they go. Effectively, this is the children writing an algorithm! It is because of this I feel Bee-Bot is a great way to introduce KS1 children to the concept of algorithms, without making it too obvious.
From a cross-curricular point of view Bee-Bots could be linked to Maths (positioning, directions) and fit in perfectly with elements of the new Computing curriculum. I definitely think this app is suited to KS1 as it has a simpler concept to that of Kodu or Scratch and is a great introduction to programming and coding in general.
My Uni group and I have used Bee-Bots and we all agreed children would like it due to the cute characters. The fact you will actually be covering a critical part of the Computing curriculum by using it makes it even better!
A downside is the fact it is only available on the iTunes App Store, meaning schools will need to have access to Apple products, mainly iPads. This could limit the availability of the software, and trust me, as a non-iPad owner myself, I feel your pain!
Has anyone used Bee-Bots in the classroom before? Or do you use the old-school floor robots instead? Would you consider changing to the online version, or do you see no benefit in this? Please let me know!