With two posts in a row related to Wonder Workshop it might appear that I work for them or get a commission. I don’t! The Undercover Robots Camp curriculum I wrote about yesterday could technically be used with a variety of robots, but I do like to use the Dash robots because they are so engaging and user-friendly for younger students. Today I wanted to review one of the newest products from Wonder Workshop, which is customized for their Dash and Cue robots – Sketch Kit.
Students love to program their robots to write/draw, but anyone who has tried to rig contraptions for this purpose knows what a nightmare this can be. It’s a good problem-solving experience, but not the best use of time if programming is your main goal. Wonder Workshop has solved this issue by designing a unique harness to attach to Dash or Cue. This harness allows the robot to lift a marker up and put it down – and the free app updates include these accessory options for coding.
The $39.99 Sketch Kit includes the harness, 6 dry-erase markers, and 6 project cards. The markers are customized to fit the harness, as you will note in the picture. Marker Refill Kits (6 markers) are $14.99. We haven’t had our kit long enough for me to tell you the typical number of uses you will get out of a marker.
As nice as it is to have the Sketch Kit, the whiteboard mat that I purchased for $99.99 is even more worthwhile to me. Mats for robots are expensive, unless you DIY, and this one screams out versatility. It rolls up fairly easily, but it is definitely durable. With measuring guides on the side (100 cm x 200 cm), there is plenty of programming potential. The marker erases nicely without leaving residual color on the mat. Knowing I will be using it with several groups of students, I feel that it was definitely a good investment.
Programming the robot to draw what they wanted proved to be more challenging than my students expected. I put my 5th graders in pairs and they had about 7-10 minutes in each group to create a program in Blockly. Before we ran the programs, we projected each one on the board so the students could try to predict what the robot would draw. This was great visual/spatial practice, and it was funny to hear the opposing ideas that were thrown out at the beginning. No one’s program was perfect the first time, so I also gave them time to “debug” after each initial run.
So far, the programs have been fairly simple – drawing a letter or two, or a few shapes. With a little practice, I’m hoping my students can advance to this free lesson that Wonder Workshop just sent in their most recent newsletter, which involves using Cue to draw mandalas.