“Can you imagine Kindergartners and first graders studying engineering and robotics?” is the question that begins a WROC Channel 8 television news report about the activities of Vista Teach Instructional Services, an educational enhancement company that develops and brings after-school and supplemental in-school activities to classrooms in the Rochester, New York area. Click on the link at left to see the full report showing students using Bee-Bot, Pro-Bot, and Kinderlogo as part of S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) activities at Allendale Columbia School in classes managed by Vista Teach.
Vista Teach programs include students from kindergarten through 5th grade and integrate on-screen and hands-on activities. Younger students found their creativity unleashed with Kinderlogo which let them use the computer to create colorful drawings, samples of which are on the right. Students visited the Kinderlogo web site and even used Skype to consult with Kinderlogo author Dorothy Fitch to show what they had done, ask questions, tell how they used the program, and even give their advice.
Students especially enjoyed using Bee-Bot and Pro-Bot robots, programming them to move about the room. Younger students learned the basics of programming by sending Bee-Bot along paths of their own devising. Older students inserted pens into Pro-Bot and used the robot to explore angles and create drawings as shown to the left. They also made Pro-Bot respond to its touch, light, and sound sensors providing exposure to robotics concepts. An objective of the program is to interest students in eventually pursuing S.T.E.M. careers. Vista Teach Director, Sue Sorrentino, notes that students are using the same concepts as software, mechanical, and electrical engineers on an age appropriate basis. “Once they're hooked, they go for it,” she said. “The younger the better.”