Achievements From the Pilot

A pilot project such as this does not seek a pre-defined outcome. The schools involved genuinely explored the relevance of the Picoh robot and Near Space Launch material to see if it enabled them to teach parts of the National Curriculum more effectively. The four pilot schools explored their own ideas during the pilot and covered a range of cross curricular activities as well as linking to the computing curriculum. The key finding from all pilot schools was that the Picoh Robot and related Near Space Launch material offered unique, inspiring and challenging stimulus to accelerate learning and achievements for all abilities of learner. We have summarised the findings below and hope that you are similarly inspired.

Introduction to how the pilot schools approached the pilot

'Having the Picoh gave it real purpose. The children could actually see the principles come to life and the excitement when the first group got their Picoh to start working and responding to the code that they had input made it all worth it. I used the Picoh project as a way of really getting children to develop conditional thinking to a higher level which had been difficult in the past.'

Duncan Hopwood - Wormholt Park Primary School

'It gives you a great opportunity to develop coding for expression and achieve human like characteristics in a robotic being.'

Nic Hughes - Primary Computing Specialist

What were the activities created by the pilot schools?

‘We focussed on a clear set of end goals in terms of creating a personal assistant from the Picoh. We tried to replicate the kind of algorithms that go into something like Siri or another voice recognition software and personal assistant using Scratch, which was really exciting because a lot of that came from the children and we saw that opportunity come up quite organically’.

Duncan Hopwood - Wormholt Park Primary School

What were the benefits to learners?

'In those initial stages, we did just let the children tinker with the Picohs.

And that's where the idea of Picohs talking to one another came from because they wanted them to be able to communicate with each other.'

Cheryl Shirely - Cheam Common Junior Academy

‘It offered a lot of opportunities for children to want other things to happen to it; as it can talk, it can move, it can rotate - you can show a range of different emotions.The children can have fun with it; they can do something silly or they can make it do something serious and therefore that all heightens the engagement.’

Christopher Perrott - Cheam Common Junior Academy

What was the impact on learner outcomes?

'Actually having a physical device that was more human-like gave the coding more meaning, more purpose and the children seemed to understand the concepts better, grasping some of the more abstract concepts that they struggled with in the past. It's almost like covert learning; they don't even realise that they are taking it in because they are having fun and they have got a purpose and they don't want to leave at the end of a computer lesson'

Luke Craig - Britannia Education Trust

‘Some children now are better able to express themselves than they were at the start of the project. Children have used it as an outlet for expression, where previously they were completely non-verbal in terms of saying how they felt. We also found that as I tied it together with different scenario picture cards, that children were better able at the end of the project to recognise facial cues of people in different situations.'

Edward Warren – Imperium Federation

Advice for teachers considering using the Picoh robot and related support material from the pilot

‘Picoh robots are very easy to pick up, plug in and use the software. If you were to use this within the classroom, I suggest creating an immersive experience drawing in all areas of the curriculum. Start the children off by using coding and get children to interact with the robot and play around. Don't set them a perimeter or a task; allow them to explore what the robot can do at their pace.'

Christopher Perrott - Cheam Common Junior School

‘There are lots of teachers out there who are perhaps less confident in terms of using computing curriculum tools. Picoh is straightforward to use and served a really fantastic purpose here in terms of supporting our curriculum. There are certainly applications in terms of emotive expression.’

Edward Warren – Head of Primary Phase – Imperium Federation

Advice for teachers considering using the Near Space Launch resources

‘It takes the whole journey of setting up of the weather balloon with the robot suspended from it and then the launch of the robot right up into near space. You can see the robot going above and beyond the clouds. It's very exciting.’

Belinda Evans – Strictly Education

‘The robot launch materials actually helped us to be able to say that maths can influence what's going to happen with the Ohbot; you can change the story based on the maths.

We can influence the story by using the maths and just generating lots of different outcomes based on things like the angles or the speed. So using those maths skills in that real life context makes a really big difference to children.’

Emma Potter – Cheam Park Farm Primary Academy