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The Buzz about Coding, Bees and Early Childhood

Coding! Coding! Coding! It is the latest “Buzz” word in education. I prefer the term programming, its more accurate but I will save that for another day. You may be surprised that the concept of integrating coding, especially for our youngest learners, is not new. In fact it is over 30 years old. Seymour Papert, the father of Constructionist learning theory, was part of the team that developed an empowering technology tool called Logo. Papert applied what he learned working with Jean Piaget as he worked on Logo and it is clearly reflected in the software. A tool with no ceiling and no basement, Logo provides a tool for students to think and problem solve creatively. The Iowa Early Childhood Papert Partnership documented a great example of the benefits of Logo in the early childhood classroom. I will never forget a teacher of a large Ohio school district who told me “When we had Logo, there was not a first grader that did not know what a right angle was”. But alas integrating a programming language into the curriculum seemed a bit ahead of its time then.

So what do Bees have to do with the coding buzz? The Bee-Bot and Blue-Bot provide screen free experiences with distance, direction, estimation, problem solving, and open ended creativity, all based in the Logo language designed for children. Drawing on Logo, the bots move using forward, and back in units and turn in 45 and 90 degrees* without using a computer. These are the very first commands you learn in the Logo language. Yet these basic commands open up a whole new world of creativity that can be integrated within the curriculum. Examples of what you can do with the bots in the classroom can be on Terrapins facebook page and also here.

The experience does not end there. As students master the basic commands of Logo and how they can apply them to solve problems, they can create more advanced programs using the online logo software and sending commands via blueooth to the Blue-Bot, and InO-Bot. The latter which includes a variety of sensors.

As you navigate through the Coding Craze, and the plethora of products out there, I recommend taking a look at what started it all, based in solid pedagogy.

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