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A New Coding Curriculum

Blog Type:  STEM Lower School
Date Posted:  Friday, October 12, 2018

Beginning in September, our students experienced their first coding classes as part of our STEAM curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math). Coding develops very useful skills, including introducing a programming mindset, mathematical thinking, and collaborative working. It enhances student engagement in a very fun way.

Students learn to code with DASH.

 

There are a lot of programming languages around the world, such as C++, Javascript or Python. Our focus at EB is to get our students ready to learn any of these languages. How? By using block programming, a dedicated coding language for young learners developed by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) called Scratch. This programming language enables our students to develop their computational thinking. 

Computational thinking involves four different skills:

  • Decomposition: Students break down big problems into smaller ones
  • Algorithm design: Students use a set of rules for solving a problem 
  • Abstraction: Students find the right solution that works for different problems
  • Pattern recognition: Students analyze to look for a repeating sequence
BeeBot robot.
 

In G1, G2, and beginning of G3, students will use Beebot, a small bee robot that can go in all directions using a physical arrow on it. Placed on a squared mat, our young coders will have to analyze the problem and solve it by using directional arrows. These hands-on activities are very popular with the students. They quickly develop the abstraction representation of a problem and help them find and recognize the different positions in a limited space.

In G4 and G5, our students have discovered DASH, an amazing robot. It has three wheels, many sensors, lights, and can talk and listen to instructions. A launcher can be added to the robot, as well as Lego bricks, to let our students’ creativity blossom.

The first challenges have been quite fun. The robots had to push glasses on a track, draw a geometric figure and compete against each other. Mathematics is always used when students are coding because they have to calculate the different angles, length, and speed they need. 

The goal is to be able to use conditionals and variables by the end of the year, but it is also to be able to understand the coding language in order to design a video game using Scratch Jr. The students develop a lot of useful strategies such as calculating a length without a ruler and thinking ahead of coding sequences. They enjoy these engaging and very collaborative classes.

And last, but not least, I would like to extend a huge thank you to the Parent Association. Because of their donation our students are able to get the latest tech robots in the market, as well as science workshops, to explore hands-on activities. We will ramp up our program by getting LEGO MINDSTORM EV3, which enable the students to build, program and command their own Lego robots.