I was really excited to see that the younger age level STEM badges were released first. We typically lose girls in science and math between 3rd and 4th grade. This is much earlier than ever anticipated. Introducing girls to engineering, technology and the processes of the engineering design process are essential to keep girls engaged in STEM.
Badge 1 - What Robots Do.
This badge is all about learning what robots are and some of the jobs robots complete in today's society. Girls finish up by designing a robot that solves a problem.
To start, since I am a fan of starting things with short videos, I would use one of the following videos and lead the girls in a brainstorming session about some of the jobs robots do. They might recognize, the roomba or Amazon Alexa from commercials. After watching one or two of the videos, have the girls brainstorm other jobs robots might have or robots they may have seen. I would keep the videos to under 10 minutes with this age group.
I would follow the video you choose with a game or activity. I find this age has a hard time understanding the concept of buddies and working as a team. At least my troop does! So, I am always trying to come up with new ways to reinforce the buddy concept.
Robot Race The “Robot Race” is fun for team building. Maybe pair up assigned buddies in your troop. One player needs to be the robot and the other player needs to be the mover of the robot. The robot is not allowed to move on their own at all. They can move with the mover, well moving them. They will need to "race" to the other side before the other teams. The mover will move the legs and feet of their robot. They will need to do this all the way over to the other side of the room. The first robot and mover to reach the other side of the room wins. You could even change up the game to be more like "Simon Says" or "What time is it Mr. Wolff" where you could call out different robot functions.
Robot Memory Game Give each girl two sheets of paper and some colored pencils. Have then create two of the same drawings of robots, one on each page. give girls 10 minutes for this activity. Collect all the drawings, shuffle them and lay them out upside down on the floor. PLay memory as a group, matching the robot pictures up.
Finally, I would go back to the original discussion on what robots do and have them brainstorm some jobs that robots do and have them design a robot that completes a task, or have them write a story about a robot that helps out a family or person complete a task that was difficult for them.
I really like some of the short stories that are included in the Daisy petal activities and side notes that are included in this badge packet. So, I looked for a few children's books that might have robots in them. Our troop is always ready to sit and listen to a story! Here are a few I found.
This badge is all about how robots operate and move. Essentially, a basic introduction to computer programming. If I were leading this badge activity I would start by teaching the girls how to do the robot dance.
Learn to do the Robot Dance https://youtu.be/ApIVO-1kVzY
I would follow with a quick discussion on how robots move (through a computer program. I like the Brain Pop video for this age level about computer programing. This video works great with the programming activity that follows.
Then; have girls program each other to complete a basic activity, such as pick up a pencil or write a specific letter. Girls need to be specific in their steps and think about all the motions it takes. Our brains are computers for humans and complete the programming steps automatically by telling our nerves and neurons to react. But what if our brains operated more like a laptop computer or tablet and you had to tell it specific functions by writing an algorithm.
Here is a graphic organizer from BrainPop on coding someone to tie their sneaker. Using this will depending on the motor skills of your girls. If you have a younger group simply have them voice the commands for a simple activity that they do normally.
For instance if I were to code someone to pick up a pencil, I would need to think about describing what a pencil is, which way to hold it (pencil lead down, etc) and the motions of my fingers and hand to hold it in place.
Finally, once they have mastered the programming they can then code their friend to navigate a maze that either you or the girls created. Depending on the setup time you have available you can either create a maze on the floor using painters tape or have the girls use objects in the room to create a maze that they navigate each other through using only the fp backwards, move 1/2 step forward, move 1/2 step backwards, turn right 90 degrees, and turn left 90 degrees. I have made some handy dandy cards you can download and print out to use. https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Daisy-Robotics-Badge-Code-a-Friend-Action-Cards-3421246
Badge 3 - Design a Robot
The badge starts out with making a plan for a robot. This is where the girls think big but build small. Girls need to design a robot that helps make their everyday life easier. It could be a robot that ties their shoes, or put their laundry in the hamper, one that brushes their hair. It is important to keep in mind that the girls aren't actually building a robot, though they could do that too but it is more about having them understand the engineering design process, making a plan, designing a prototype, testing the prototype and re-evaluating the design to make changes to the design or problem. So you do not need to be a robotic engineer or your girls to complete this badge.
What I suggest is starting with a simple robot building competition
Robot Building - Depending on our group size, split the girls into 2 -3 groups. Pile all the supplies in the center of your space or on a table.
Aluminum foil or silver wrapping paper or other types of metallic paper
Various sizes of cardboard boxes to build robots with
Recycled material, scraps of paper, pipe cleaners, wire, plastic solo cups, etc.
Challenge them to build a robot using the materials supplied.
As group, brainstorm some everyday tasks that the girls complete everyday (brushing hair/teeth, tying shoes, picking out their clothes, chores, etc).
Individually, have them choose one of those tasks and design a robot on paper that would complete that task. Ask them to label parts of the robot or depending on the motor skills, have them share their designs to the group, describing the different parts of the robot. If you have time and the resources, you could give them some cardboard, paper, string, rubber bands, etc that they could use to build a prototype. This is also an activity that they could complete on their own and bring in to share at the next meeting.
After, the robot is planned and designed, they should determine the program that the robot will run. This could be a time that they break up into pairs or small groups and help each other create the program for their robot. The final step is debugging the robot. So that time that they were just working in pairs, ask the girls to individually take a look at their original designs and decide to make changes based on their testing with their partners.
Again, the important concept for this badge is that the girls are completing the engineering design process, however, that works for your group of girls.
If you would like to extend the robot fun....
Create doodlebots and create a troop abstract art piece, all you need is a pool noodle cut to length,several rubber bands, fat markers, and a dollar store electric toothbrush http://pin.it/cB3nYaC