Our fuzzy little robot friends have been cause for much experimentation this week. The children have been building structures to house them, race them, and test their abilities. After some attempts at allowing the Zhu Zhus to roll on the carpet, it was decided that smooth surfaces are easiest for them to maneuver on. Luckily, we have some large flat blocks that make a perfect floor. The arch shaped blocks made a great bunker for the robots to “sleep” in until they were ready to be on the move. A few attempts at ramps were also adjusted until the children found a way to butt the pieces together in a such a way that the Zhu Zhus’ wheels didn’t get stuck.
“He goes down the slide and through the door and into his playground”
A separate experiment involved speed. Three children were taking turns placing a Zhu Zhu on the top of a ramp. They then tried pushing the various buttons in turn to see what would happen when they let go. Usually, it made a noise and then rolled quickly down the ramp. Sometimes it fell off the side and sometimes it made it to the bottom and pushed the “blocking” block out of the way. Interestingly, one of the Zhu Zhus had a second speed. One of the children discovered if she pressed the back button in a special way, it made the Zhu Zhu go very, very slowly down the ramp. Then they tried to replicate the results with a different robot, but it didn’t work. After much frustration and many attempts, I thought they would give up the process with the second Zhu Zhu, but I was pleasantly surprised that their hope and interest did not flag.
“I pressed my fingers like that [uses three fingers to press the back button of the robot], and made it go slow.”
“This one doesn’t go slow.”
“Let me show you.” [She pushes down in same manner and it goes fast, down the ramp. She flips it over, inspects the underside and tries again.]
Although the second Zhu Zhu never did “learn” how to go slow, the experimentation, cooperation, and willingness to meet a challenge was very exciting to see.