Wednesday, May 09, 2018

My new friend, Cue!

I have had the chance to use Wonder Workshop's Dot, Dash, and Cue robots at various conference sessions. But these sessions were always guided by the presenter, so I never really got a chance to explore how to code with the robots.

I was so excited when Wonder Workshop send me a Cue of my very own! I had the time to explore the many options, learn how to code with the block option and compare it to the Javascript code, and play some interactive games with my new friend!

The Cue has a fun personality which makes it feel like a true AI robot! Actually, there are four personalities to pick from, and each has its own special conversational style. The Cue is targeted for students in middle school. However, with the block programming, upper elementary students could easily control the robot, and, with the javascript programming, Cue would provide enhanced practice with an actual programming language for high schoolers.

The technical components of the Cue robot are outlined on the Wonder Workshop information page. Some of these include:

  • An accelerometer and gyroscope
  • 3 proximity sensors
  • Real-time Bluetooth
  • IR robot interaction
  • 3 processors and a sensor function
  • Dual motors and potentiometers
  • 3 microphones and a speaker
  • Programming LED and buttons
  • 2 powered wheels and encoders

All of those components make for a very powerful programmable robot, but the fun factor of my friend Cue is the part I like best! 

You can record words and sounds for Cue to emit (my son made it burp, of course) and and the ability to use easy block programming made it simple for me to control.

There are some options that are coming soon to Cue including Apple Swift™ programming, detection of the direction of a voice, and the ability to be aware of the proximity of other nearby Cue robots.

Sketch Kit

The actual reason Wonder Workshop sent me my new best robot friend was for me to check out their new Sketch Kit. The Sketch Kit is an accessory for Dash and Cue. It includes a harness for the robot to hold a marker, six colored markers, and six project cards to help students practice using the Sketch Kit to draw. The Sketch Kit allows students to code Dash or Cue to draw a picture!

In addition, there is a large Whiteboard Mat available which allows students the ability to iterate their design and erase the false starts. (The Sketch Kit and Whiteboard Mat can be purchased together in the Sketch Pack.) The markers include in the Sketch Kit are whiteboard markers, but I can see students completing their final drawing on a thick white piece of paper from a roll of plotter paper, for displaying of their artistic creations on the walls in the school hallway! 

Sketch Pack photo courtesy of Wonder Workshop

The Wonder Workshop site includes a great blog post explaining how to set-up the Sketch Kit with some tips and tricks included. Their site also includes lessons in their education curriculum such as, "Using Sketch Kit with Cue: The Geometry of Mandalas" and "Using Sketch Kit with Dash: Robot Code Breakers", based on Alan Turing and the codebreakers of WWII.

I did not read the blog post on the Wonder Workshop site first, but had no trouble setting up the Sketch Kit and Whiteboard Mat. The directions included in the Sketch Kit box were easy to follow! And, as I said at the beginning of this blog post, I wanted time to experiment on my own!

Now, remember, I am new to both block programming and the Sketch Kit when you watch the video below. I am sure I will get a lot more creative once I have some practice, but I felt good about my first drawing!

The Sketch Pack can be used in many curriculum areas to embed the STEAM skills in all the content areas. It is not just about the coding, but about the design thinking process where students plan, test, iterate, and reflect. Some ideas include:
  • In math, students could draw the three types of triangles. The pen can be programmed to go up and down, so Cue could be coded to move to a new space on the Whiteboard Mat to draw each triangle.
  • In social studies, it would be fun to draw a state outline, a rendition of a historic building, or the path of the Appalachian Trail.
  • In science, students could guesstimate the end of the path of a object when ramps are differing heights, since the mat is broken into centimeter areas. They could then roll the balls right onto their drawing on the Mat to test their hypotheses.
  • In ELA, students could illustrate the theme of a short story or a book.
  • And, of course, the Sketch Pack would be a natural fit in the art room!
Take a look at both the Dash and the Cue on the Wonder Workshop education site and consider getting a Sketch Pack to add another level of creativity to the coding process!