Monday, August 20, 2018

Teach STEM & The ECC Using Kibo Robots


Blog graphic that says "Teach STEM & The Expanded Core Curriculum Using Kibo Robots with a pciture of a Kibo robot.
 Happy back to school everyone! I apologize for the big delay but I have been a very busy bee these past few months. I am just settling back in for regular blog posts. I have so much to share! I am always on the lookout for opportunities for our students and I stumbled upon the Kibo robots at STEM Fest last year. I immediately jumped at it because the accessibility would be so easy. Kibo robots are originally designed for early childhood but I find that I can use them for older students, too. I like how I can create simple concept development to pave a good foundation for robotics, engineering and programming. Plus, you can add the A and make it STEAM! They have lots of fun addition parts to be creative. I have used them several times with students and most recently at our Survivor on STEM Camp Island residential camp.
  Elementary age male students writing a program using the Kibo program blocks.
Elementary age male students writing a program using the Kibo program blocks. 
It's not just STEM that we can teach with the Kibo robots. It's about connecting it to the real world and that's where the ECC comes in. I infuse a lot of ECC concepts as I do my pre-teach with the robots such as asking the students how robots work in the real world or creating concept development about what robotics really is. Check out a video about the Kibo robots:
 
A Kibo robot with all four sensors: light, eye, telescope and listening
I have taught with the Kibo robots for students of all ages and visual abilities. My students who are totally blind can use them as can my low vision students. It didn't take much for accessibility either. We did make Braille labels for the programming blocks. The classroom kit comes with a game called Kibo Says. The game has "large print" cards which is what I use with the students who cannot easily see the blocks. You can still scan on them and they totally work. Plus they come with the kit--no enlargement necessary. I also pull out our handy Visolux (see picture below) just for quick magnification and to incorporate use of assistive technology (an ECC area!).
  A Visolux magnifier magnifies the program blocks on the screen.
A Visolux magnifier magnifies the program blocks on the screen. 
The Kibo robots lend themselves well to building concept development--meaning that there isn't a lot of abstract to make tangible. I start my lessons with new students by going piece by piece of the robot and they will build it together so they know each piece. We discuss the wheels and how to lock them in and discuss the function of each sensor. I also specifically discuss how the scanner works (and then discuss where else these scanners exist---a grocery store is a great example as well as a connection to the real world ECC).
A student hand is reaching to work on a Kibo robot.
A student hand is reaching to work on a Kibo robot. 
There are lots of games such as bowling. My students have loved just creating with it. Here is a list of examples of activities: http://resources.kinderlabrobotics.com/activities/. You have to begin each program with a start and an end which is really nice. It is easy to have defined and tangible concepts for students that have no vision. All of the students that I have introduced them to (from grades 3-12) have really liked them.

                                         Kibo Says cards in full size (8.5x11)
                                   Kibo Says cards in full size (8.5x11)

















Male middle school student works on a Kibo robot. He is scanning the program blocks to the robot.
Male middle school student works on a Kibo robot. He is scanning the program blocks to the robot. 
You can infuse so much Expanded Core into your Kibo lesson! Think about spatial awareness and directionality (orientation and mobility skills), working with a team (social interaction skills), problem solving, self awareness and making choices (self-determination), all the jobs in the STEM field, following simple and complex directions, cleaning up the Kibo, etc (career education). Those are just a few examples of skills and concepts you can specifically target in your Kibo session. The only accessible thing we did was add Braille labels to the program blocks. Everything else was pretty much accessible. The direction cards did need Braille and LP copies but that wasn't hard at all to do! I've had a great experience working with the company since I purchased these for our school. Give them a call and tell them you heard about it from me!

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