Islands Elementary students rock robotics and coding
A night of exploration for K-6 students and their families at Islands Elementary. The GPS school held a STEM robotics night on campus to showcase some of the cool gadgets available across the district. The event, while part of the Title I programming, was open to all students and families at the school. The night featured several robotics and coding stations, where students could incorporate their science, engineering, technology and math skills into the activities.
Joe Granio, a tech integration educator (TIE) with the district, brought three different types of robots to the event for students and families to interact with throughout the night. The first was a small, powerful robot known as an ‘Ozobot.’ The robot can read lines and color segments of lines in order to travel to a given location.
“In this activity, students were given a pair of dice, then, depending on their ability level, add/subtract/or multiply the sum of those two dice. Then the student found the mystery number on a number page matrix and penned down a travel line path for the robot to follow. If they successfully found the right answer, the student could then use color lines to make the robot do a celebration dance or even moonwalk,” Granio said.
Students and families also had the opportunity to actively engage with Edison robots and Dash robots. The Edison robots are codable in four programming languages. Students used a ‘neighborhood’ map, a meter stick and skills to calculate angles for turning, and then they coded the robot in SCRATCH to complete a task. The activity allowed students to improve their coding skills through trial and error. As for the Dash robot, this one had the most charming personality with its great big, blinking eyeball. Students were able to use the Dash robot to hurl a velcro ball at a felt target filled with dinosaurs.
“In this activity, we used a combination of different distance commands to code in the BLOCKLY language. Students either had to add or subtract two 2 digit sets of numbers to get a certain distance for the best chance to hit a dino with the ball,” Granio said.
For every activity, students did the coding and calculating by themselves with a little adult guidance. Nearly two dozen families participated in the event. In addition to the robots, students and families visited Lego, Tangram and magnet block stations. Each student received a swag bag to take home, which included their very own Tangram shapes. They also were given Chex Mix snacks disguised as ‘nuts and bolts.’ For a few lucky prize winners, they received their very own Lego sets donated by the school’s PTA.