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Path for Dash Robot
Pros: Delightful special effects engage and entertain.
Cons: Movement can be unpredictable, making matching the ground path with the screen iffy.
Bottom Line: Fun activities will hook kids; more advanced applications will continue to challenge them.
Students can learn programming logic and robotics working with Dash. Drawing the path with their fingers gives them a visual representation of the order that the events occur. Then they can drag the visual icon for each event into place in the program. The interface is kid-friendly and allows for any path to work. The biggest challenge for kids is predicting how the robot will move in the actual room as they complete the path on a screen, but even that's forgiving. If the robot encounters an obstacle, kids can move it and continue the program or start over. Teachers can find lesson plans for different content areas to integrate Dash into lessons, from writing about the robot's adventures to creating mathematical illustrations to completing scientific demonstrations.
Path for Dash Robot is a free app that requires the Wonder Workshop robot Dash. The other companion robot, Dot, doesn't work with Path. Dash requires a device with a Bluetooth connection and must be connected to the app each time kids play, often needing a few minutes for an update, as well. This update can take up to 10 minutes, so teachers will need to check before starting an activity involving the robots.
Kids work through three scenes -- a racetrack, a farm, and a city -- completing puzzles that unlock different special effects. Dash follows the path drawn on the screen and makes effects as instructed. Kids program Dash (which in this case only involves dragging an icon into the correct order on the path) to complete the given path to unlock the next one. Once unlocked, special effects such as siren and animal sounds, spinning out in an oil slick, flashing lights, and dozens more, can be used in original programs kids write for Dash in any of the scenes or on a blank page.
Path for Dash Robot makes programming logic fun and tangible for kids as they program paths for a robot and experience the lighting and sound effects. Kids can quickly and easily progress through the scenes in Path, unlocking dozens of special effects that they can then use to create their own programs. Though each scene has tracks, roads, or trails visible on the screen, kids don't have to stay on those paths when they draw lines for Dash. The important part is putting the commands in the given order. Once kids have mastered that, they can create all kinds of fun paths for Dash to follow. The actual path on the ground that Dash follows may have obstacles that aren't on the path on the device, but that's not a problem. If Dash gets stuck, kids can choose to push through the obstacle or to reset the path and start again. Kids can actually pick Dash up and move him and then select Push to continue as well.