Bee-Bot Floor Robot – Teaching Basic Programming

The bee-bot programmable robot teaches logic, the basics of programming and how a computer "thinks."A friend gave me a Bee-Bot floor robot on “permanent loan.” She wanted me to figure out some good ways to teach the basics of programming as well as some algebra.

I was happy to take on the challenge.

What is the bee-bot?

I handed the bee-bot to the kids with the prompt, “What do you think?”

When they asked about it, I answered: “Figure it out.”

They mashed some buttons. Some students figured it out. But some needed my prompts:

  1. Press clear.
  2. Now press two arrow buttons.
  3. Put it down and press “Go.”

With this they got enough of what it is, a programmable robot with five operations:

  • Forward
  • Reverse
  • Rotate right
  • BeeBotCommandsRotate left
  • Pause

The “Go” button launches the programmed sequence of operations and the “Clear” button clears the programming.

Learning Programming

I made a 4 x 4 grid for the bee-bot to drive on. This allowed us to designate start and end positions and do some programming.

Students would draw paths and challenge others to program the bee-bot to drive around it. We even placed our own “houses” on the grid and asked things like:

Can you program the bee-bot to start at “Start,” drive around Ms. Bon’s house and end up at Edward’s house? 

We used post-it notes to record the programming steps.

To program and debug our bee-bot, we used post-it note commands.


Sometimes the bee-bot didn’t do what they wanted it to do. So we had to debug the program.

They watched the bee-bot and said out loud each step as I pointed to the arrow (the command) it was doing. When it would go off the intended track, I marked it in our post-it note program. Then they could figure out what the command should have been to make it work.

Programming on Paper

After a while they had a pretty good handle on programming in “real-time.” They could look at the grid and program the bee-bot as they physically moved him.

Now it was time to move to programming without the bee-bot in hand.

I gave them mini-grids along with LEGO men and had them do one step at a time.

Turning presented the biggest challenge. They had to figure out that “turn right” means literally rotate right – no forward or side movement at all.

Different students were successful at different levels. But overall they got a good feeling of logic, programming and what it’s like to think like a computer.

We didn’t get to any algebra work as my friend requested, but the year’s not over!

Share your thoughts in the comments and tell your PLN on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!

This post may contain affiliate links. When you use them, you support us so we can continue to provide free content!

2 Responses to Bee-Bot Floor Robot – Teaching Basic Programming

    • Great question, Tiff. They are 15cm – I did some deep research to figure it out as my experiments didn’t yield anything good in inches.

      Amazon’s Bee-Bot page claims it’s 6″, but that’s only a rough estimate of 15cm.

      Good luck!

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.