Teaching Aids and Manipulative Teaching Means: Educational Robotics and Mathematics Using the Planned Bee-Bot Floor Robot

Teaching Aids and Manipulative Teaching Means: Educational Robotics and Mathematics Using the Planned Bee-Bot Floor Robot

Alexandros G. Kapaniaris (Democritus University of Thrace, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6717-3.ch014
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The subject matter of this essay concerns the use of manipulatives and teaching aids in the teaching of mathematics for the 1st and 2nd grade of primary school, combined with educational robotics applications. In particular, the use of the programmable bee-bot floor robot combines procedures that involve the use of manipulative means (creating a track as a cardboard model, painting, assembling), teaching aid tools (demonstration of the programmable bee-bot floor robot), and finally, the comprehension of simple programming and mathematical concepts. Through the implementation of an educational scenario aiming to familiarize students with the basic geometric concepts, mathematical operations (multiplication table), basic algorithmic structures (simple problems and step solving), there will be involvement with the cognitive areas of informatics (basic programming concepts)) and mathematics (geometry, calculations).
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Educational Robotics in Primary Education

Research conducted in recent years internationally, suggest different approaches to the teaching of Programming and Mathematics, especially in secondary education (Papadakis, 2018; Papadakis, Tousia, & Polychronaki, 2018). The directions regarding the teaching of Programming focus on relieving the student from learning an abstract programming language where commands and syntax dominate. Thus, students are asked to draw examples from the “real” world and consider the interests and meanings they give in an interdisciplinary environment. Nevertheless, the difficulties in teaching Programming in Secondary Education do not differ significantly from those encountered in Primary Education. According to Fesakis & Dimitrakopoulou (2006) who attempted an overview of educational programming environments, they argue that the appropriate programming languages for ages 8-15 are Logo Like environments, Educational Robotics applications, as well as game creation programs, such as Game Maker (Fesakis & Dimitrakopoulou, 2006).

The Pedagogical Framework of Educational Robotics

Educational robotics today is experiencing significant development through the pedagogical current of the Logo programming language (Kalogiannakis & Papadakis, 2017b; 2017c). This pedagogical approach is enshrined in the context of classical constructivism and in the context of constructionism, as developed by Papert (Papert, 1991; Resnick, 1994).

The main objectives of this approach are:

  • 1.

    problem solving through the handling and construction of real and imaginary objects,

  • 2.

    the formalization of thought (using commands in a programming language for automatic handling),

  • 3.

    socialization (human cooperation, interaction and promotion of thought through cognitive and socio-cognitive conflicts) and

  • 4.

    the acquisition of knowledge and skills related to many disciplines and thus the promotion of interdisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach (Kafai & Resnick, 1996).

However, the peculiarity in the programming of robotic constructions such as the Bee-bot creates a different working environment for students (Kalogiannakis, Ampartzaki, Papadakis, & Skaraki, 2018). Thus, this type of robotic construction programming works: a) motivating students, necessary element for the teaching practice, b) there is a connection with social reference practices, if one considers that the construction of various objects is a widespread social practice in the world of children (Komis, 2005), c) the testing strategy, which is familiar to Primary School students, is promoted, d) the possibility of different acceptable solutions is offered instead of a single and correct solution, e) supportive of metacognitive learning processes as it forces us to think about the way we think and act.

Key Terms in this Chapter

STEM: The term STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is an acronym used by those relevant to the educational method concerning the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Text-Based Languages: A programming language that does not involve graphical elements (blocks) as a main part of its programming language, but instead is mostly oriented around text.

Novice Programmer: A computer programmer who is not experienced at programming.

Block-Based Coding Language: A programming language that uses graphic elements as a means of providing visual cues to the user as to how and where commands may be used.

ICT (Information and Communication Technology): A term that covers all technical means used to handle information and aid communication, including software and hardware.

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