Last spring I worked with a group of teachers and second grade students to retell Greek myths with robots designed by Kinderlab Robotics. I can’t say enough about the ingenious KIBO robots. So much thought went into their design. They provide very young children the opportunity to practice STEAM skills as they develop social-emotional competencies.
Working in groups required the children to listen to each other; make decisions as a group; combine their ideas and skills to write their myth script, design and create their god or goddess and their map, and construct and program the KIBO. On the final day of the project, students gathered around each story map as the authors ran their KIBO programs and read the accompanying scripts. When everyone was finished, we then allowed time to debrief the whole process, reflecting on the challenges they faced and the strategies they developed to overcome these challenges. To our surprise, almost every group focused on the social-emotional challenges this project presented. They pointed out how important it is to give each member of the group time to express their ideas and their frustrations and to acknowledge in a respectful way that each person is heard and their thoughts are valued. They talked about their strategies for collaborating on story writing, robot construction, map drawing, and how to program the KIBO. They also talked about how to deal with group members whose behaviors they found frustrating.
Read more about it and see the pictures in my article on the KinderLab Robotics website.