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Robots, Drones, Maker Spaces – Oh My!

Hour of Code
Posted on 12/12/2018

Robots, Drones, Maker Spaces – Oh My!

Exciting things are happening at Anderson with Mrs. Rhonda Shaver’s second-grade enrichment class. For forty-five minutes a day, students are learning to code! Coding, the basis of computer science programming language, has primarily been taught in high school and college. Due to the changing workforce in the 21st Century, and the need to better prepare students for future jobs, the importance of teaching these skills in elementary schools is now evident. The state of Tennessee has recognized this need and recently approved its first computer science standards for K-8. This should reach the classroom in the fall of 2019.

Mrs. Shaver’s class just completed Hour of Code sponsored by Code.org, but in August jump-started the process by learning the basics, beginning with directional coding by programming Bee-Bots. Their students learned the importance of using an algorithm for their programs to work. Students then advanced to block coding using lessons from Code.org, Scratch Jr., and BrainPOP. Past third grade classes have even done some JavaScript coding with BrainPOP. “They especially love programming our robot friends, Dot and Dash. The best part about teaching coding is watching their analytical and problem-solving skills deepen. I want them to think while they are creating, and solve bugs they might have in a program. If they get stumped, I encourage them to ask two friends and work together before they come to me. It might take some time, but they usually work it out on their own,” said Shaver.

In the US, there will be 1.4 million jobs in computer science over the next 10 years, but only 400,000 will qualify for it. In Tennessee alone this year, there was 6,774 open computing jobs and only 625 computer science graduates. The need is there for us to prepare our students. “Even if your child wants to do something outside of computer science when they grow up, their coding skills will prove useful across fields. Coding teaches problem-solving, organization, math, storytelling, designing, and more. The beauty of coding is that it comes in handy for different aspects of life and allows kids to express themselves creatively” (Tynker coding for kids).

` Mrs. Shaver further explains, “Kids are naturally curious. My role in education is to boost that curiosity into learning. In order for them to really learn, we need to give opportunities to explore and create. I witnessed this recently when my enrichment class spent some time in our school’s new Maker Space. Every child was engaged. They were all working on things that interested them - some were coding robots, some were created in Scratch, while others were engineering buildings with working doors. I was simply the facilitator and sat back and watched them work collaborate together. It was amazing to observe them be in charge of their own learning.”

A plan for a culminating project this semester is in a process to work with Tennessee High’s CTE classes. “This past summer they were gracious to let us use their drones to code during our STEAM camp. I had as much fun as the kids! I’m excited to see what Mrs. DelGaudio and I can put together.” (Shaver).

If you would like to see more exciting happenings from Mrs. Shaver’s classes, you can follow her on Twitter @shaver_rhonda Steve Jobs

“Everybody in this country should learn to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.”

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