Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Robotics and Programming with the Ozobot Bit

Out of all of the various robots that the kids and I have been exploring in this robotics and programming study, the little (Amazon Affiliate links ahead! If you click through them and then end up buying something on Amazon, it doesn't cost you extra but every now and then Amazon will throw a few cents my way as thanks for the free advertising) Ozobot Bit is my absolute favorite.

I mean, it's just a tiny little robot! And all it wants to do is follow a line! Just draw a line, and this wee buddy will happily trundle along it as far as it goes.

It's adorable. I can't even stand how adorable it is. Every time I see it happily trundling along, contentedly following a line, I just want to pick it up and pop it in my mouth.

And the best part? This sweet baby came from the LIBRARY!!! I mean, I don't know how I'm ever going to bear to return our tiny dude, but seriously. Best library check-out EVER!

I introduced Ozobot Bit to the kids when we began to explore the programming component of robots. Ozobot Bit makes a stellar example of programming, because its programming language is just about the easiest and cutest ever:

You program it by drawing a line. Ozobot senses your line and follows it.

Easiest and cutest EVER!

The Ozobot Bit kit comes with several cards, but you can print more online, and since this whole kit came from the library and I was terrified of messing it up, that's what I did and what I encouraged the kids to use:

You can program Ozobot to perform other behaviors by drawing the line in different colors, and there's a list of color codes that OzoBot Bit understands. The kit also comes with markers in the correct colors, but again, you can use other markers if you experiment a little first to make sure Ozobot Bit can read them.

We went on to use the Ozobot Bit quite a bit in the rest of our robotics and programming study, but on this day I tasked the kids with 1) exploring Ozobot and how it senses and functions, and 2) creating their own program for Ozobot to follow.

Here's one possible program being created:

When Will introduced it to the Ozobot Bit, however, she discovered that our little Ozobot couldn't read it!

It turned into an exercise in troubleshooting and problem-solving, then, as Will worked to figure out how to modify her program to be legible to the Ozobot Bit.


Syd had a slightly different challenge to her own programming task:

Whenever Syd is trying to concentrate on something, Gracie finds her and comes to sit directly in between Syd and whatever she's concentrating on. Bonus points if she can sit directly ON TOP OF that thing.

Syd will never, ever, ever move her, and Gracie knows it.

When Gracie had finally soaked up enough attention and wandered off, Syd tried making a piece of art that would also, indirectly, serve as an Ozobot Bit program:

She was frustrated that her program didn't work perfectly, but I think that it actually worked really well!

Even though the programs didn't work perfectly, the kids proved that they could read and program Ozobot Bit, and so we moved from learning about Ozobot to using it as a tool to help explore the rest of the concepts in our robotics and programming study.

Here are more ideas to add depth to your use of the Ozobot Bit:

  • Add a third dimension. The use of paper strips is a really cool way to give Ozobot Bit a new way to explore.
  • block programming. Block programming is the most common way to allow kids to access real programming. Incorporating it into the Ozobot Bit experience is a good way to help kids think more broadly about programming and to make connections between Ozobot and other block programming experiences.
  • maze building. I love this idea because it makes clear how much of programming is solving logic puzzles. 
  • train set alternative. A model train can only follow the path that you build for it. But you can build that path for Ozobot Bit, AND include fun special effects. It would be really entertaining to set up an entire city with building blocks or LEGOs and multiple trundling Ozobots.
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