Innovators - Eva Thomas
K-5 | Technology Skills | App & Robot
Eva Thomas is the librarian at Pocopson Elementary School in Pennsylvania.
When setting up our makerspace, I chose Dash and Dot after doing a lot of research. Dash seemed to do the most with the most ease of use. There are so many things you can do with it. I love that I can get into the education section and find lessons that are Common Core aligned. I love the Challenge Cards we got along with it. It seemed like the full package to me. Plus, Sunburst Digital has been great and very helpful. Any question I had, Sunburst always answered them.
I call my makerspace the Discovery Zone. It’s open every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It’s good for kids who need a break from the classroom. They’ll come to the Discovery Zone, and it’s something they can control. They like that. The robots are being used from the time the students come in to the time they leave. Also, the tech teacher next door uses them. So, the robots get used every day.
When I have the Discovery Zone open, some of the learning support kids come in because they don’t like recess. One student in particular just loves the robots. He loves that he can make it run, and he can make it make noise. It’s just so much fun to watch him. He asked me the other day if he could have a scavenger hunt with it, so now I’m going to set up a scavenger hunt for him to run and go to different places with Dash.
We’re trying to use the robots in more ways. Now that we have eleven robots, we can create teams of two or three students. It’s been great. I give the kids free time at recess and they go crazy with them. We got our robots from a grant from our PTO. They love seeing them used as much as possible.
This summer, we have different groups for our summer program each day, and I’m in charge of Dash and Dot. I’ve come up with an activity for the summer using a big rug in our lobby that is a map of the United States. One of our other teachers has a game called “Game of the States”. We’re going to spread the rug out and give each team with three tasks. They’ll need to program their robots to go to three different states on the map and measure the robots’ speed. For the Winter Olympics, the tech teachers in our district did slalom skiing in the hallway. The kids had to measure and program the robots to go around the cones.
The robots can be programmed to do anything. I think they can be involved with every lesson. I’m going to spend a lot of time this summer looking through what’s there and thinking of lessons I can pair them with. Particularly since I work in the library, I like to read a book and then have an activity that relates to the book, and I think the robots could be good as different characters and things.
One day last week, we were reading Goldilocks books. When the kids came in at lunch time, one of them stuck some yarn on Dash’s head and said, “Look, I made it Goldilocks!” That would be a cool lesson: dress up your Dash and they can do something with that character.
The fifth graders love to be involved in this kind of thing. I had a couple boys make a maze in the library. They also helped me learn how to use the launcher accessory for a lesson. There’s just no end to the things you can do.