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Bristlebots in the Grade 4 Classroom - Erin Petley

January 8

ImagineBots LLC

ImagineBots LLC

One day, while perusing the world of twitter, I came across a post from @Makerspaces_com about kits for making these creatures called Bristlebots.  The kits to purchase contained all the supplies necessary, but having the teacher lifestyle, were out of my price range.  I decided to put the message out to world and asked if anyone in Calgary would be willing to donate to purchase the kits for my grade 4 class.  I also tagged Nenshi, who promptly retweeted, and within a few hours I had a response! After some back and forth messaging with an employee of ISA Calgary, their board generously donated money to purchase the kits.  I was beyond ecstatic and anticipating how my students would react.

On November 2, 2017, my students eagerly listened as I informed them that they would have an opportunity to create a small, robotic creature called a bristlebot.  This would be our first ever, real “maker” time in class, with motors and batteries.  As I passed out the supplies, the buzz of the excitement was impossible to ignore.  Quickly, my students began exploring their materials and collaboratively they each constructed their own bristlebot. 

Once their bristlebots were successfully working, they practiced modifying and altering them to see how changes would affect their movement.  They raced one another, had them do “dance moves”, and enjoyed understanding why one change would make their bristlebot behave a certain way.  They finished with their bristlebots creating a piece of art!

This was a very rewarding experience for both my students and myself.  This was their first opportunity to be involved in a maker space, and to really understand how classroom skills and knowledge could help them in the real world.  From a teacher’s perspective, every student was engaged, problem solving, and working together to create.  They persevered when things didn’t go according to their plan, and supported one another along the way.  As I watched and interacted with my students, not only did I see their excitement, but their constant affirmation with comments like “this is the best day ever” brought a smile to my face.  I never imagined that from a simple tweet my students would be able to partake in an unforgettable experience.

~ Erin Petley