Building a city from scratch? With the world's smallest programmable robot? And 13 children between the ages of 5 and 10? Are we crazy to even consider this?
During a weekly workshop in Brussels, we came up with the idea to build a new city. The children had already made their first acquaintance with ozobot and a number of other programmable robots. However, they decided that the ozobots were their favorite and wanted to continue working with it. Soon it became clear that building a new city structure with the ozobots would not be that easy. A short brainstorming session brought essential elements of a city to the surface: houses, school, train station, a parking lot for bicycles, a large forest in the middle of the city, a police station, an airport and etc.
They started to work together to draw a first map. However, 13 children working on the same map at the same time turned out to be quite difficult. Therefore, they decided to make four groups, each of which would choose a different aspect of the city to work on. One group wanted to build tunnels and bridges and to see how thick a cardboard should be so that the ozobot could drive over it. Another group decided to make costumes for the ozobots. They wanted a bus-ozobot but also a cat-ozobot. Because why not? The youngest group decided to build trees - and a lake. After all, everyone knows that a forest without lots of trees and a lake is just not a good forest. The last group worked on the pathways for cars, cyclists and public transport. Thanks to their experience as little kids growing up in a big city, they had very clear and ecological ideas about how to make a better, greener city. Thus, they chose to design the pathways in three different colors. The black road was for cars, and contained the color code for fast driving. This road was also longer than the rest and was located on the outside of the city. The green road was for cyclists only, and mainly connected the houses and the school, because children should be able to ride to school in the safest possible way. The blue road was for public transport such as tram lines and buses.
In only three sessions, they made the whole city come to life. As a coach, I spent most of this time twiddling my thumbs. Because when children put their heart and soul into a project and claim it as their own, they will only need you as extra pair of hands. They got this!