Nancy López – IT teacher
Janine Cervi – Y2 teacher
Clara González – Y2 teacher
Coding in Go Green!
Being true to our objective of integrating coding into the second grade curriculum, and knowing our students have already acquired basic coding skills, we decided to move forward into robotics in the social studies unit Go Green!
This unit covers communication, transport and sustainability. Students will not only learn about specific contents related to means of transport and communication but also, their impact on earth and what we can do in order to improve the current ecological reality we live in.
After working hard throughout the unit, we invited students to design and construct a model of a futuristic, green vehicle as a final product. This vehicle became our connection to robotics and coding.
During one of our IT lessons, Nancy asked the children some questions to help them think about robots.
“Are they magical or human controlled?”
“What are they made of?”
“Do robots have a brain?”
The kids brainstormed very interesting ideas which we wrote down on the board. This was a lively and loud discussion. It was very enriching for us to listen to 7 and 8 year olds’ ideas about what a robot is and is not.
We then introduced Kibo to the children, a robot especially designed for young learners which we used as the mean to integrate coding, creativity, and logical thinking. Kibo has a friendly design, allowing children to program it by creating a sequence of commands using wooden blocks. These wooden blocks helped the students transfer what they were learning with the coding program online to the physical world.
In addition to this, we recalled our science unit about light and we made them ponder where the light in the classroom came from. Every time we touched the switch, was it magic? This triggered us to build a circuit with a Lego circuitry kit to help them understand hands-on how electricity moves in a circuit. Then we guided them through questions for them to infer the connection between the work done with circuits and Kibo. They were able to turn the robot around and see its circuits. They could clearly identify its power source, switch, wires and light bulb, which helped them understand that the robot didn’t work by magic but because of its circuits.
In order to program Kibo, the children worked in groups of three. They placed their sustainable vehicle on Kibo and were challenged to program the robot to make the vehicle move forward. Students found the building of the code very easy and related it with the Code Studio exercises online. They were very excited when they saw Kibo and their vehicle following their commands. In addition, watching the robot move encouraged them to experiment with more instructions involving sensors, movement and repetition.
Furthermore, this year students have been participating in a robotics workshop where they are learning basic concepts about robots and programming. We have noticed that students are able to make more inferences than last year students and it is also easier for them to program the robots. We think this is probably a consequence of the simultaneous work done in the classroom and the workshop, and have therefore been planning our work so as to interconnect our projects.
The children worked with enthusiasm and commitment during the unit of work, especially during the process of design and construction of their vehicle. Coding and Kibo allowed them to go a step further as they made their invention come alive, thus making their learning experience more meaningful.