As part of their Programming and Robotics course, Hewitt students in 9th and 10th grade collaborated with 3rd graders to design unique robot toys. The toy developers began their project by conducting interviews with the 3rd graders to learn about their interests and what types of experiences they find satisfying when playing with toys. Feedback about toys that “you can be creative with,” and “give you joy,” gave the designers guiding objectives they could focus on in brainstorming and developing their projects.
The resulting toys were varied, with upper school students creating everything from remote control robots that draw as they drive, to a robot that navigated an obstacle course, to a robot that used a color sensor to provide answers to color-coded math problems. During a final visit to the lower school, the developers hand-delivered their robot toys for a joint play session. In the roles of designers, builders, and coders of sophisticated robotics applications, our upper school students modeled for their 3rd grade ‘clients’ that robots can be built and programmed to do a wide variety of tasks and activities. In the words of one 3rd grader and potential future programmer, “It’s fun to be the boss and give a robot commands.”