John S. Hobart Elementary School students recently had the opportunity to work with cubelets – magnetic blocks that snap together to become different types of robots that require no programming or wiring. Cubelet-based robots have the ability to move around on tabletops, respond to light, sound and temperature, and exhibit surprisingly lifelike behavior.
“Through the lessons introducing students to robotics, students learned that robots ultimately do what people program them to do,” said Renee Dolan, John S. Hobart Elementary School librarian. “The students explored the function of each cubelet and how when they put the pieces together, they get a reaction.”
Each Cubelet is an 8-bit computer, which means that when they are snapped together in a robot construction, they form a computer network. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts with cubelets; and they have the ability to demonstrate “emergent behavior,” a natural phenomenon observed in ant hills, flocks of birds and schools of fish.
Ms. Dolan’s goal is for her students to view the John S. Hobart Library as a collaborative learning environment – “a place where they can think, explore, create and grow their ideas based on what they learn from each other,” she said. This project has set the foundation for future lessons on computer coding using Blockly, a visual basics coding language designed to teach beginners how to code.
The cubelets were used on loan from Eastern Suffolk BOCES through a partnership with the School Library System. Ms. Dolan has plans to borrow the cubelets again and work with students to create a computer code that will control the robots they build.