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Robotics & Coding Exploration

In the realm of coding and robotics, mastery isn't just about understanding programming languages or manipulating hardware; it's also about effective communication, problem-solving, and creativity. In the month of April, we conducted our second run of STEM on-site at Fair Oaks. The students embarked on a journey that seamlessly integrated these essential life skills with the exciting world of technology.

Communication: The Foundation of Coding

The first step on this journey was a seemingly simple yet important exercise in oral communication. Students sat across from each other, obstructed from each other's view. One partner drew a picture, while the other had to recreate it solely based on verbal instructions. Through this game, students learned the value of specificity in communication, a skill crucial not only in interpersonal interactions but also in coding.

Introduction to Sphero Edu

With their communication skills honed, students delved into the world of robotics using the Sphero Edu platform. This engaging tool allowed them to explore the features of robotics and programming in a hands-on manner, laying the groundwork for more complex tasks ahead.

Coding Challenges: From Maze Navigation to Choreographed Movements

As students grew accustomed to the platform, they faced a series of coding challenges designed to push their skills to new heights. They began by providing oral coding instructions to guide a real-life "robot" (in this case, Mr. Julian) through a physical maze. This exercise not only tested their ability to articulate precise instructions but also highlighted the real-world applications of coding in navigation and automation.

Next, students were grouped together to code the Sphero to perform specific movements, such as tracing a circle or a square. Collaborating in teams, they learned the importance of cooperation and division of tasks in problem-solving—a valuable lesson applicable far beyond the realm of robotics.

Game Design and Debugging with Kodable

To culminate their learning journey, students delved into the world of game design using the online platform Kodable. They were tasked with playing pre-existing games and debugging them, identifying and fixing errors in the code—an essential skill for any aspiring coder. Building on this foundation, they then had the opportunity to unleash their creativity by designing and coding their own games, putting their newfound skills to the test in a fun and challenging way.

Building and Coding: A Perfect Finale

As our journey drew to a close, the students were tasked with a thrilling final challenge. Working in groups, they first constructed physical mazes—a testament to their newfound understanding of spatial awareness and design. They used popsicle sticks and baskets to construct these mazes. They then put their coding skills to the test by programming their Sphero robots to navigate the maze without causing any disruptions. The students competed against each other to see who could code the sphero to go the furthest through the maze. Some tested the Sphero each step of the way, while others took a chance by coding each step, and then found what needed to be "debugged". This culmination of creativity, collaboration, and technical skill marked the perfect end to our educational adventure.

In conclusion, our students have not only learned the fundamentals of coding and robotics but have also developed a rich set of life skills essential for success in any endeavor. From effective communication to creative problem-solving, our journey has equipped them with the tools they need to thrive in an ever-evolving world. As they continue to explore the possibilities of technology, we can't wait to see where their journey takes them next!

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