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Re-introducing the data logger for Rugged Robot

Reading Time: 4 minutes

In my classes, children were thrilled by being able to see the effects of their voices on noise levels. Armed with this information, we were able to create wonderful gadgets that sounded alarms when class noise levels got dangerously high (which, surprisingly, isn’t too loud at all). They saved me from having to get my “Teacher voice” out to remind the children to work a little less rambunctiously!

In science, we used the data loggers to create plant nannies to tell us if our plants needed watering or moving out of the sun. We investigated habitats, melting points, weather and temperature, all underpinned by the real-world maths that goes hand in hand with data. Over the years it’s been great. The children’s creative juices flowed. They become invested and generated ideas for wonderful inventions to support wildlife, health & wellbeing, and their own learning environments.

Now, as a computing consultant, it saddens me to find so many data loggers at the backs of cupboards, gathering dust, unloved with no-one left in school who knows how to use them. (If I’m honest, these old data loggers don’t help. They have, historically, not looked very appealing. There are usually wires, probes and frustratingly old software to get your head around. I mean, who has the time?)

A data logging revival!

In comes Rugged Robot… We have been using him for quite some time in our computer science lessons. He is, as his name suggests, a sturdy programmable robot who connects to an app via Bluetooth. What makes him unique is that he is designed for outdoor as well as indoor use. He has loads of brilliant features we combine into our computer science lesson. (Read more about the Rugged Robot here.)

I mention my friend the Rugged Robot because he has recently been kitted out with a little backpack that houses the Data Logger. This means that we can now combine all his computer science features with all the aspects of data logging. As easily as that, you now have the makings of a STEM project.

I rallied together a die-hard band of data warrior teachers and together we instigated a mini data logging revival in our classrooms. We used the data loggers along with the Rugged Robot in EYFS, KS1 and KS2 classes.

The "Data Warrior" lessons

Right from the get-go everyone agreed that the Data Logger and Rugged Robot combo got everyone in the class excited, engaged and ready to learn. Children always like to see something new and exciting. Each class had their own plan and objectives.

Early Years

The children in EYFS linked their learning to numbers and understanding the world around them. They described what they saw, heard and felt while they were outside and also noticed the changing effect of the seasons. They were thrilled with the idea of being able to use the data logger outdoors, carried on the back of a happy little remote-controlled robot.

Key Stage 1

In English, our KS1 class were reading “Orion and the Dark”. Orion, the lead character in the story, is scared of shadows in dark places. We used the Data Logger to investigate the darkest parts of the school and how light levels change in these areas. We encouraged the children to consider their results and decide at what level light actually turns to shadow.

Key Stage 2

The focus in KS2 was to write a persuasive letter, including real life data, to the head teacher. They were asking for old lighting to be replaced with new brighter LED bulbs. The level of engagement in this project was clearly evident in the improved quality of the children’s writing. During their lesson, the children made a connection between the Mars Rover and the Rugged Robot. Both collect data as they travel the terrain and are remotely controlled. This has paved the way for another child led data logging project around the Mars Rover.

Programming the Rugged Robot meant that everyone got to flex their computer science muscles. They decided how it should travel to next the next location to collect data.

Why do we do it?

As a team we had great fun thinking up ways to best use the data logger along with his pal the Rugged Robot. But, as always, once the children got their teeth into it, the best ideas came from them. We know our children are, for the most part, engaging more and more in the world of technology. With these types of projects, we are able to let them see a different side to the technology that sits at the very core of world events such as global warming, weather patterns and habitat destruction & conservation

As teachers, our main goal is to prepare our children for their lives after they leave school. We want them to be citizens who engage in global events. For me, projects like this with their deep reaching roots, means that we are able to realise that goal.

Thank you so much to Maria Temel for writing this blog and to the 6 schools (The Valley, Prestolee, Oxford Grove, Mytham and Masefied) who participated in trialling the Rugged Robot Data Logger.

Maria is a Computing and E-Learning Consultant at Bolton Schools ICT.

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