Botley Activities #1: Accessible Robot and Coding Concepts

This wide-eyed beeping robot teaches students to code while promoting critical thinking and problem solving. Botley comes with a 77 piece activity set - manipulatives which are used in a variety of accessible games - making Botley perfect for students who are visually impaired or blind. Botley's remote control has tactile buttons and Botley emits a series of tones which help indicate what he is doing. The coding cards can quickly be modified using simple textures. Botley - including the activity set - is currently available on Amazon Prime for $47. In 2019, Botley was awarded the Toy of the Year.

Botley Basics

Botley is a cube-shaped "bot" (robot) with two large wheels on either side. Two large eyes are on the front side. The top has a round transmit receiver, and 4 lights surrounding a "stop" button. Batteries are inserted in Botley's back side. The bottom has a three-way switch: the top is Line, middle is Code and bottom is Off. There is also a rectangular sensor (used to follow black lines) which will be discussed later.

The Botley remote has a large half-circle Transmit button, four square command buttons (move forward arrow, right turn, reverse and left arrow). Four small circular buttons are at the bottom: object detection, loop, trash/clear, and volume.

The command cards are small square cards with visual images on both sides. I have modified my command cards using sticky-backed foam (down arrow and right arrow) or a slick sparkling texture (up arrow and left arrow). Note: It is recommended to use a sticky-back texture, as it is challenging to adhere the arrow edges using glue or other adhesive.

The video below describes Botley, the remote and the modified command (arrow) cards.

While these videos show very simple routes, Botley can hold 80 separate commands at a time. Botley moves forward/backward approximately 8" for each Forward/Backward command. Note: Botley will move in a continous motion; however, he beeps at the beginning of each command, which provides important information to students who are visually impaired.

The second video demonstrates using the remote to input the commands and then transmitting the commands to the Botley.

 

Easter Egg Activities

Once students have had an opportunity to code and run several simple routes, motivate your students by completing specific routes which activate Botley's Easter Eggs. Easter Eggs are hidden features within Botley's program that make Botley talk. Here are a couple of routes that include Easter Eggs:

  • Forward, Forward, Right, Right, Forward  ("hi")
  • Forward, Forward, Forward, Forward, Forward, Forward (Weee!")
  • Right, Right,Right, Right, left, Left, Left, Left ("Uh-oh!")

There are more Easter Eggs - can you discover them? (Note: The manual said for more Easter Eggs, visit Learningresources.com/botley; however, I could not find additional additional Easter Eggs on the website.)

Video #3 below demonstrates the first Easter Egg.

 

Loop Command

Loops are shortcut commands used by coders to eliminate writing the same code over again. Example: If you want Botley to move forward six times, you can press Forward, Forward, Forward, Forward, Forward, Forward or you can press the Loop, Forward, Forward, Forward, Loop.

Note: The red light on the remote control will turn on when a Loop command has been initiated.

The video below demonstrates a simple Loop command.

Summary

Botley is a whimsical robot entertaining students with a variety of fun activities! This introductory Botley post is just the beginning - we have not even looked at the fun manipulatives that come with Botley - these manipulatives significantly improve the accessibility of the mainstream Botley activities! Botley with it's additional features, is the next step for introductory coding and STEM activities. Stay tuned for more Botley posts!