In 2017, The Wild Robot by Peter Brown was chosen for the Global Read Aloud. Classrooms around the world enjoyed this engaging story about a robot named Roz who is stranded on an island and learns from the animals how to survive in the wilderness. Fourth graders at Goodnoe Elementary School added a new dimension to the Global Read Aloud by completing a Finch challenge related to the book. For more great books that you can use to make ELA connections, see our Suggested Reading List!
Each group of students chose one of two projects connected to The Wild Robot. The first project was to retell a favorite part of the book using Finch; this project was based on Finch Tales. Students worked together to make props, program the Finch, narrate the story, and videotape the project. The goal of this first project was to have students work together to discuss a story and to make a plan to retell part of the story in an interesting way – by using the Finch.
The second project was to use the setting of The Wild Robot to explain a variety of geographic features that Roz would have to maneuver on the island; this project was linked to the fourth grade social studies curriculum. Students programmed the Finch to make its way through different geographic features while they narrated its path. Students had to come up with a list of geographic features that were part of the story, make the props to show the features, program the Finch, and record a video.
“It was fun to be able to bring the idea of a robot in a book into the classroom by using real robots. The work was challenging but fun! The children persevered because they were invested in their projects.” – Maryann Molishus
Second graders at Kentucky Avenue School in Pittsburgh, PA, use the Hummingbird robotics kit to create their own versions of monsters from Greek and Roman myths. Aimee Defoe, their teacher, incorporates this project into a larger cross-curricular unit that also focuses on myths in language arts and the history of ancient Greece and Rome. Students work in pairs to design and build their robots using mainly repurposed materials that would otherwise be discarded, such as cardboard and scraps of cloth.
- Before the robotics portion of the project begins, have students explore mythological monsters in language arts. Read excerpts from the following books:
- Greece! Rome! Monsters! by John Harris
- Greek Myths by Marcia Williams
- D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaires
- After reading Greek and Roman myths about monsters, have students work as a group to make a list of the features of different monsters. These features might include multiple heads, special powers, etc. Have the class work together to sketch the features of a monster.
- Lead students in a discussion of images from myth in the world around them. This can include making a list of gods, goddesses, and monsters referenced in books, TV shows, and advertisements; it can also include a field trip to the art museum to search for representations of myths.
- This project can also be combined with a unit on the history of ancient Greece.
- This project can also be carried into other subjects. For example, new vocabulary words like “sensors” can be incorporated into spelling lists.
- Before being introduced to the Hummingbird robotics kits, have students work in pairs to create a mashup monster that combines features from different mythological creatures.
- Introduce students to the components of the Hummingbird robotics kit. This can include a demonstration of a sample robot.
- Have students revisit their sketches to consider how they can use robotic components to animate their mashup monster. This project can be simplified for lower elementary students by limiting the number of components that they can use in their monster.
- Introduce students to the idea of computational thinking. This discussion should emphasizes that a program for the robot is a series of step-by-step instructions. Have students give you step-by-step instructions to complete a task within the classroom.
- Before each group begins to build, discuss their sketch and plan with them to ensure that their project is feasible. Remind students to bring in repurposed materials to use for their robot. Parents can also be asked ahead of time to save materials for the project.
- Have students begin to build their mashup monsters.
- For younger students, it may be helpful to have stations for knives and hot glue so that students only use these tools with adult assistance.
- To manage student questions, you may want to use the board or a large sheet of paper to have students sign up for help. This may help to prevent interruptions as you work with other groups.
- As students build, work with each group to show them how to use the CREATE Lab Visual Programmer. Use your sample robot to demonstrate how to use lights, motors, and sensors. With a larger class, whole group instruction may be more appropriate for this step.
- Encourage students to test each component with the Visual Programmer as they add it to their robot.
- When students complete their projects, provide an opportunity (such as an open house) for them to share their work with the school community.
Imagine that Finch is going on a trip. It is your job to program Finch to reach your assigned destination. Once you get there, give some facts about that place before moving on to the next stop!
You may choose to program Finch to move to your destination on its own (autonomously), or you can write a script that allows you to drive the Finch with the keyboard (remote control).
Teacher Note: You may choose to to place a large map on the floor, or have students make their own maps to explore!