Thursday, December 5, 2013

Robot Program

After feeling inspired by Pinterest, I decided to hold a robot program at my library.  We actually have two Robotics Teams in our towns, but they are only open to middle school students.  While we couldn't make operational robots, I wanted a chance for kids to think about what a robot would look like and do if they got to design it completely by themselves.

Since kids love to talk about themselves and are sometimes meeting each other for the first time, I always have everyone go around the circle, say their name and grade, and share something fun.  On this particular day we happened to share our favorite Thanksgiving food, because it was my last program before Thanksgiving.  I work in a town of 11,000 and get a lot of repeat kids at my programs, so I like to form small, personal connections this way.

I started our robot conversation by asking the kids what they know about robots, and they had lots of great answers.  A few even told me about times when they had made operational robots.  I talked a little about what it is that robots do and why they exist.  I don't have a lot of non-fiction about robots that also make great read alouds, so I shared a few picture books with the kids. I read Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman and Robot Zombie Frankenstein by Annette Simon.  Both were huge hits with the kids.

And then it was time.  Time to make our robots.

I spent several months before this program collecting supplies--tubes from toilet paper and paper towels, yogurt cups, juice bttles, boxes from granola bars, boxes I'd gotten book orders or other stuff in (one little boy got to make a robot with a Sephora box--I doubt he knows what Sephora is), etc.  I collected materials by asking my staff to bring recyclables and other materials in. I didn't have a great place to put all of this, so it took over a corner of my office for a while.  It took me some time to lay it out and organize everything before the programs.

I also put out supplies we'd had left over from other programs.  Duct tape left over from Duct Tape Crafts, yarn left over from when we made yarn dolls.  I also had paint, glitter, glue, construction paper, pipe cleaners, etc.

When the kids started crafting, I told them to think about what their robot would do.  They spent the remainder of the hour building and decorating.  We wound up with Artsy, an Art Robot who will help you finish your art projects, Sparkle Bot, and Sparkle Party Bot, just to name a few.

This was a fantastic program that let kids be thoughtful and creative.  I don't think it had quite enough science elements to be a full-fledged STEAM program, but it definitely has some STEAM elements.  When parents come in to find their children and say "You can add one more thing to your robot and then it's time to go," you know it's a hit.

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