Hay Fever

February 20, 2018

Our pollination theme is one of my favourites. While many of us are familiar with hay fever, we seldom have the time to ponder about the pollen – why it is “bitter-sweet”.

It is always interesting to ask children what they know about pollination (guided by a lovely photograph of a bee on a pollen-laden flower). Answers range from “bees eating pollen,” to “when pollen is in the air,” to the science-enthusiasts from whom I learn something new about pollination from (thanks, Josh)!

However, it is amazing how easily children grasp the concept once we get going! Last week in Drumoak, we discussed pollination and likened it to “furmination” between my cat Jaffa and I.

At Wacky Bots, we love to extend ourselves.

We start with creativity then transition into critical thinking and problem-solving. When we build a pollinator robot, we create our own pollinator – design it and build it. I’m always amazed at what the children come up with. I’ve seen bees, flies, wasps, butterflies, birds, bats, and more adventurous inventions like fighter jet pollinators and unnamed long-tailed creatures. Being able to imagine a creature and make it tangible is what Lego is all about, right? However, giving one’s creation life through robotics makes it so much more rewarding – particularly when it is linked to something real in our lives.

Last week in Aberdeen, we used Lego Mindstorms to venture into critical thinking and problem solving. Participants were given their first challenge: visit all treasure chests and return to the pirate bay. This task is simple for a human. However, if we close our eyes and imagine driving our car through the route, we realise that there are bits where we must go straight – for now long? There are times to make a pivot turn and other times to make tighter turns to get around the track.

Each move is a block of code.

At the end of the class, everyone understood the concept of decomposing the challenge into smaller tasks, blocks of code, in order to solve it more easily – the wisdom of critical thinking.

I am really looking forward to supporting the teams in Drumoak and Aberdeen as they get their robots doing wondrous things!

Just Like MusicA Robotic Playground