Now you can implement 1:1 coding and robotics education affordably
The pandemic and subsequent school closures highlight the difficulty of reaching every student with meaningful learning experiences. Not only do we need to give students the right tools to continue learning and creating at home but, like never before, we need to help every student learn individually.
Our Dash robot has been widely successful as an inclusive hands-on tool for learning. This year’s Wonder League Robotics Competition (WLRC) drew teams from 91 countries to solve problems together. 47% of these participants were girls, and this has been the case since our first competition in 2015. Teachers and parents alike marvel at how Dash engages students of diverse backgrounds, leading with personality, captivating animations, and an endearing “Howdy-doo!” Over 4,000 school districts in the U.S. utilize their inventory of Dash robots with our standards-aligned, no-prep curriculum for teachers to offer students their favorite STEAM activities. By any standards, that’s impressive.
As schools embrace coding as a fundamental literacy and robotics as an essential engagement platform, the question of how to reach every student becomes top of mind. With schools closed and learners stuck at home, the need for a robust way to offer individual student activities that address 21st century skills is critical.
How can school districts implement 1:1 coding and robotics education affordably?
Today we are launching Dash’s Neighborhood, an online environment with a programmable, virtual Dash that students can program with the Blockly app. Our newly designed virtual Dash mirrors the real robot. Students will recognize the same enchanting personality and sensor-based interactions. In addition, they will gain access to an imaginative world embedded right inside of the kid-friendly Blockly programming app. Dash’s Neighborhood comes ready to code with our existing sequence of learning content and even includes a floor modelafter our Wonder League mat so teams can hold virtual practice sessions.
With Dash’s Neighborhood, educators no longer have to choose between coding apps and programmable robots. The kid-friendly apps that students use to program real robots can now be used online to program on-screen, virtual robots. Teachers don’t need to train with multiple tools and districts can implement one-to-one coding and robotics education with a competitively priced offering. Most importantly, students continue to experience rewarding group learning activities with Dash robots while also being able to iterate, test, and debug their programs from anywhere. In the current times when schools buildings are closed, students can also access and program Dash’s Neighborhood from home.
We announced beta access to Dash’s Neighborhood at our first ever Best of Coding and Robotics Virtual Summit last month. Since then, over 700 educators have provided encouraging feedback that we are already incorporating into the product. For example, educators are hoping to see even more surprising interactions and interwoven math concepts to engage their students and integrate coding and robotics into their classroom. We will continually make additions to Dash’s Neighborhood to serve needs like these and more.
“Dash’s spunky personality shines through in Dash’s Neighborhood, making coding an engaging and rewarding experience. The simulated world Dash lives in is colorful and visually enticing to explore. Dash’s Neighborhood allows every student in my classroom to be actively creating and problem solving with code. One of my favorite features is the ability to switch back and forth between the simulator and the physical robot. We have enjoyed being able to write and test programs online and then switch to the physical robot and see it again. Most importantly, Dash’s Neighborhood allows for more equitable access to Dash and coding. It’s a great way to get robotics and coding into the hands of many kids and is a great option for classrooms and schools with a limited ability to have enough physical robots.”
- Emily Zarybnisky, 5th Grade Teacher, Brookfield Elementary, Fairfax Public Schools, Virginia
Dash’s Neighborhood can be accessed now from within the Blockly web app on Chromebooks or using a Chrome web browser. It will also be available on iPads in time for back to school this fall. Dash’s Neighborhood is included with a Class Connect license, and is free to all teachers through June 2020. You can learn more, sign up, and activate Dash’s Neighborhood using Class Connect.
I invite you to check out Dash’s Neighborhood today, and delight your students with a virtual version of their favorite robot. As always, we are keen to hear what you think and how we can improve our newest member of the Wonder Workshop family as well as our existing ones.