Creating a unique classroom environment
The minute you open a Dash or Dot box, you’ll probably find your students clamoring to create a new environment for the robots to explore, react to, and interact with: mazes, obstacle courses, neighborhoods, and more. And this creation of new worlds doesn’t have to be expensive!
Here are some favorite teacher tricks and tips (#NotanAd):
- Painter’s tape: Known to the teaching world as well as the painting world, painter’s tape (often blue in color) can be used to label and name your individual robots. You also can mark starting and finish lines, outline floor mats (see below), and denote group workspaces.
- String/rope: Yep, use a jump rope, clothesline, or long piece of string to outline workspaces on the floor for small group work. Challenge students to keep their robots within their work area!
- Floor mat: We recommend creating at least a 5 x 8 grid of 30 cm squares for Dash. Outline a grid of squares on the floor or carpet (painter’s tape!). You could also create one on a canvas drop cloth, plastic tarp, or even a shower curtain for easy storage.
- Plastic cones: These easy-to-store, small cones allow students to set obstacles or design parameters for the robots to move within or around.
- Plastic cups (think Solo brand?): From markers to baskets to buildings, cups are so much more when a child’s imagination comes into play! Position and stack away.
- Basketball Net: This version always sells out after we host our Dash-ketball Challenge at conferences. Although it is a perfect size to challenge Dash with a launcher and ping pong balls (and it folds nicely for storage), see above for less expensive plastic cup “baskets.” And, by the way, we use ping pong nets along the edges of tables to corral the robots and wayward balls.
- Ping pong balls: While our launcher accessory comes with balls, you can also use ping pong balls if you create baskets and targets. Or place balls on the floor, and hold races or soccer matches (who remembers Hungry Hippo?). Ask kids to program the robots to collect, pick up, and deposit these balls — or are they nuggets of gold or flaming asteroids or magic orbs???
- LEGOs: With the Building Block Connectors, students can build the most magnificent costumes, appendages, and apparati for both Dash and Dot. Search for used LEGOs on Craigslist, eBay, or NextDoor — often great deals!
- Shoeboxes or rolling luggage: Works well to store the robots neatly. A rolling suitcase or a repurposed book cart makes it easy to move robots from one classroom to another.
- Charging: To charge multiple robots at once, you can purchase a charging hub with multiple USB ports. The linked unit allows you to charge up to six robots with one outlet. Just connect the orange charging cords included with each robot!
- Bowling Set: Who doesn’t like to bowl? Dash loves it! Create bowling matches or use the pins as obstacles or markers.
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You also can find inexpensive props and resources on sites like Oriental Trading, Etsy, Dollar Tree, Party City, SS Worldwide, US Toy, Windy City Novelties, Michael’s, and Hobby Lobby. You can find gently used items on community sites like NextDoor, Etsy, Craigslist, and eBay.
What are your favorite places to find inexpensive materials?