Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Dash and Dot Robots for STEM

Recently I had a guest speaker in my science methods course.  Megan Hamilton is from Utah State University Extension and she came to show my students some wonderful coding and critical thinking activities using Dash and Dot.  It was wonderful.  I asked her to write up a blog post and she added some helpful information about STEM grants that are currently available for teachers.  Read below to find out how to apply.  



Guest Blog Post by Megan Hamilton 



Our Utah County 4-H Wonder League Robotics Clubs started meeting one night a week at our community training field in October.  Each team consisted of up to five youth (ages 6 to 12 years) with a designated adult club leader.  Each team agreed to meet approximately 2 hours a week.  They were encouraged to complete at least one mission per week.  Our Wonder League Robotics Clubs finished their challenges and submitted their solutions online on December 15th.  Team members will be notified by January 16th whether or not they have moved on to the final round of the competition.  Winning teams are eligible to win a $5,000 STEM grant for their district.  More information about the competition can be found at http://clubs.makewonder.com


Similar robotics programs and interventions utilizing Lego Mindstorms have been successfully implemented in informal educational settings.  Many of the age ranges for Lego Robotics kits vary, but in general they target children 10 years or older.  One of the goals for our program is to implement a robotics intervention geared toward a younger elementary audience.  We hope to increase the likelihood of youth participation in our 4-H STEM programs for older elementary and middle school students.


As an educator, you can choose to use these robots during class time or you can utilize them in after-school programs.  You do not need to run a club (even though it is fun for students to compete in the national challenge).  You will need a tablet or smart phone that is compatible with the Wonder App as well as Dash & Dot robots.  Wonder Workshop also has curricula developed by teachers that is aligned to the Common Core & NGSS standards.

There are grant programs that you can apply to if your school does not have adequate funding for the purchase of your robots.  For example, the Utah STEM Action Center offers a STEM Classroom grant for K-12 educators.  You can find more information about this particular grant at https://stem.utah.gov/programs/prek12-classroom-grant/



Advantages of Dash & Dot robots

·      Dash & Dot robots are very durable! Our club participants dropped them many times and we have not needed to repair a single one throughout the entire competition
·      There are not very many pieces to keep track of and clean-up is easy! We only lost one ball during the two months of our competition.
·      Dash & Dot are affordable and can be utilized in multiple ways. We used the robots to sponsor an “Hour of Code” event in addition to the Wonder League Competition.
·      Students can easily learn the coding language while playing Scroll Quest.  This may not sound impressive, but there is less responsibility on the adult organizer or teacher to teach the coding language.  Wonder Workshop teaches kids STEM principles like conditionals, variables, and sequences within the program itself.
·      Students are working together to solve the challenges so it helps develop additional 21st century skills such as collaboration and communication



Megan Hamilton is currently a STEM Professional Practice Assistant Professor for Utah State University Extension.  She works as a STEM specialist in Utah County to provide coherent, focused, and sustainable program(s) in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) with a strong youth emphasis.  She can be contacted at megan.hamilton@usu.edu

Find out more about Utah State University Extension Program here:



Thank you for reading this blog post!  Special thanks to my guest blogger Megan Hamilton!  Thank you also to my fabulous future teachers who had a great time learning with Dash and Dot!  

Please follow this blog for more teaching ideas!

If you like this, you might also be interested in one of my science units.  STEM Engineering Activities for Elementary
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/STEM-Engineering-Activities-for-Elementary-School-1543475

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Properties-of-Water-Unit-With-5-E-Lessons-2915416

Force and Motion Unit
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/STEM-Force-and-Motion-Unit-2919778

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Science-Unit-on-Light-Aligned-NGSS-with-5-E-Lessons-929948