Learn Programming with Bees, Balance, Biomimicry

I have been working on Biomimicry curriculum for STEM as part of my sponsor TIES – Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM- work. Given my background in computer science, I was interested in teaching basics of programming to k-12 using biomimicry. Here is a summary of this project targeting grade 3-5, which is a collaboration with Emma Parker, Resident Teaching Artist of Dance, from Center for Arts inspired learning in Cleveland.

This program integrates the arts with coding and biomimicry. Interested in movement/dance throughout the natural world, students will explore the movement of bees for encoding and decoding of communication. Within working groups, students will have the chance to discover how environmental surroundings affect swarming techniques. Using the integration of the computer software Scratch and the basic movements of dance, students will code a dance to mimic a swarm of bees moving across particular terrains. Using Scratch, codes will be created to determine where the movements of each group will take them within the natural terrain of the predetermined map. Each group will create a program in Scratch to decipher these dance movements; here they will learn about simple programming techniques such as creating variables, conditional and repetition statements. This could be as a competition where each group has to figure out the other groups’ secret location through a coding questionnaire and observation skills.

Participants will…

  1. Understand emergent behaviors in nature
  2. Design techniques for coding using Scratch computer software
  3. Apply dance/movement techniques to mimic bee communication through biomimicry
  4. Develop code questionnaires to translate movements generated by biomimicry processes

Its a four 1-hour course, below is a summary of day schedules:

Day 1- Introduction of Biomimicry – Emergent Behaviors

Here students will explore swarming in nature and humans, through unpacking activities, they discuss emergent behaviors, at the end of 1 hour, students will work with pre-made kit of our lesson plan

Day 2 – Movement and Coding Exploration

Here students will learn ‘Variables’, ‘Sequences’, ‘Conditional statements’, ‘Repetition’ through dance movements and programming in scratch.

Day 3 – Building Code Questionnaire

Here Students will build out a code questionnaire in Scratch. The code questionnaire will build observation and critical thinking skills as students are asked to create question and answers that match their dance codes from the previous day.

Day 4 – Showcase, Observe, and Assess

Description: Showcase and test day. A perimeter that resembles the landscape of the nature interface created for the Scratch code will be replicated within the room. Groups will then enter the space and perform their dance codes. Groups not performing will determine through the questionnaire what landscape and final destination the code represents. Observation of movement sequence, variables chose, and repetition will factor into determining the final location of each group.

If you are interested, please check a draft of scratch code and let me know to send you final lesson plans when its done: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/174432618/

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