Teaching Computational Thinking
Putt-putt for robots
Room 210, a fairly ordinary classroom on the second floor of John Jay Middle School, was transformed into a mini-golf course for round little robots. The tight turns and daunting obstacles of the challenges were reflected in their names: Ferocious Puppy, Belligerent Bunny, Dangerous Dinosaur, Voracious Ducks (all adjectives from the grade 6 ELA vocabulary lists).
Welcome to the sixth grade Technology class Sphero Robot Competition! The programmable round robots called Sphero are an engaging new way to teach coding and John Jay students are loving it.
an engaging way to learn how to code
Small groups of students watched each movement of their rolling automaton like anxious parents, tracking its every turn, conferring, making adjustments on iPads, and then placing it back at the beginning to try again.
“Five more minutes,” Daley-Savo called out, reminding the four teams of their goal. “Send me a video of your best run by the end of the class.”
thinking like a programmer
Daley Savo is using Sphero to help students to become computational thinkers.
“I want the kids to learn to think like a programmer,” she said. “The students learn to take a big problem and break it down into smaller pieces and then address them one at a time. Coding is a transferable skill. When you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed by a task at hand, you can use your problem-solving skills to break things down into smaller manageable steps. Definitely a plus during this challenging time.”