Understanding the purpose and application of Robotics and Coding in a kindergarten through eighth grade curriculum
Written in Collaboration with Andrea Weiss, Director of Innovation and Learning
and Middle School Math Teacher
What is the purpose of Robotics and Coding in a curriculum?
Coding is essentially written instructions that a robot or computer program can read and then execute. Students must determine the task they want to complete through a robot, design the code to make it happen, and then send it to the robot to view the outcome. Robotics allows students to see their thinking in a real way as they go through trial and error until the task is accomplished and the robot's motions are performed as originally intended.
What skills do Robotics and Coding teach students?
When writing code, students have to think both critically and creatively to tell a robot what motions to fulfill and also have to ensure the code is correct. A piece of code needs to be precise and specific in order to function properly and more often than not, it's not perfect the first time. If a code is not free from error, the robot simply won't move.
Perseverance through struggle, problem-solving, a sense of agency, and collaboration (when working in pairs) are all encouraged, fostered, and achieved through such projects.
Congressional second grade students began their coding exposure by laying a foundation for understanding that failure and frustration are a part of the creativity and exploration process. They were tasked to come together as a team to build a structure out of toothpicks and marshmellows to hold a book, first ideating and then problem-solving as they went.
How are Congressional students benefitting from this STEM initiative?
Both Dot and Dash robots as well as LEGO® Mindstorms are being used by students kindergarten through eighth grade.
Our kindergarten through fourth grade students are engaging in coding concepts, foundations, and applications once per 6-day schedule rotation. They will be working with Dot and Dash using several elementary coding languages.
Our fifth grade students are taking a full-year course entitled Innovation and Computing in which they are exposed to coding, robotics, engineering, and design.
Sixth through eighth grade students have the opportunity to take student-choice electives with design, engineering, and robotics as their focus. A range of computer programming languages will be used to expose students to different types of logic.
“Congressional School students [in the STEM electives] are challenged to solve problems through applications of engineering and coding. This may result in the creation of a bridge, a paper stool, a robot completing a task, among other innovative outcomes. Each project provides students with new opportunities for creative, critical thinking. As a part of this process, we are continuing to build on students' love of learning and curiosity."
Congressional sixth grade students took a step into Swift coding by taking a class period to experiment on their own. After just 45 minutes, students expressed the need to plan, how easy it is to make mistakes, that they can break problems into parts, and the necessity of being careful in their work.
Written in Collaboration With:
Previous Director of Innovation and Learning and Middle School Math Teacher