Sunday, January 29, 2017

Robots and Coding Connections At Richmond Elementary School

This post was cross posted on the RES Enrichment blog and is written by RES enrichment teacher, Darcie Rankin ( ).

In December all students at Richmond Elementary School participated in an Hour Of Code during their enrichment classes.  This was an excellent chance for students to be exposed to the concepts of coding. After several years of Hour of Code at our school, as well as many teachers embracing coding for special projects in their classrooms over the last three years...students have developed great early coding skills.
This year I signed up to participate in the Vermont Robot Rodeo. My teaching goal was for students to have an opportunity to advance their coding skills as they made connections between hardware and software.  I feel that in elementary school the ability to connect coding to the physical manipulation of materials is an awesome way to build true and lasting understanding. I have also seen it increase student engagement as the sharing of results is so transparent (i.e. Robots roll across the floor or say something or react to something!)

This year I chose to focus the use of robots to build coding connections in our third grade classes(younger classes got exposure to the robots less formally).  We began our investigation by giving every student a chance to explore what robots could do. During this period, we might use apps that were more like a remote control versus coding and kids were encouraged to play.  After this exposure I challenged students to use coding applications to control the robots and to make them 'do something' deliberate and expected.  Students jumped right in to meet this challenge.  They used Blockly and Tickle applications and developed cool project ideas: making a robot draw something, dance to music, greet others, create a light show, interact with another robot, pull a toy on a path, make it through an obstacle name a few!  They wrote many lines of code, tested and iterated to achieve their goal, worked together and had a lot of fun.  Several students pointed out that this work was hard....but not because they wanted  to stop.....but I think they were just proud of themselves! And I was proud of their persistence and drive to learn.

Kindergarten getting early exposure to coding skill through maze building and BeeBot
Third Graders putting their coding skills to the test!

The Vermont Robot Rodeo is an amazing opportunity to expose students to these coding connections and we are grateful to all of the sponsors who provided funds to give our kids the chance to advance their coding skills. We will be sad to send Dash and Dot to the next school--but we are sure that they will learn as much as we did--and we will be watching and checking out their work too.

I look forward to watching as our RES students use all of the skills they developed and applying this same persistence, thinking and collaboration to other learning.
Below is a video that hilights student work with robots, coding examples and student reflections.

Saturday, January 21, 2017


The photos didn't show up in the last post, so I thought I would try one more.

Twin Valley Elementary, Finch

Finch was out of commission for a few days, due to some trouble with Snap, but we got him up and running again.  The kids loved watching him draw their programs with different colors of marker taped on his tail.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

TVES Finch Robot

Finch has been getting his exercise! Kindergarten students have been
using Snap to write code. Next week, Finch will be getting "art
classes" to make pictures while he moves.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Finch has arrived at TVES

Sorry, the last email did not say the name of our school, Twin Valley Elementary.

Finch has arrived


Here is a one minute video of Finch arriving in our classroom.  Please let me know if I didn't go through and I will send it a different way.  The kids were very excited.  We will have him out at our mini Makers Space next week.  I will try to take plenty of photos.

Stephanie Spring

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

our robot has arrived

 Ollie has arrived at our school. He has to wait until Monday to meet his new student friends.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

River Valley Technical Center Coding the Wink Robot Using Arduino

The students from River Valley Technical Center practiced their Coding  Skills with the WINK  robot from PlumGeek!

Unfortunately WINK seems to have lost its charge!
Fortunately,  Kevin from PlumGeek (Wink's designer)  is working with them  to get Wink back up and running!

Newbury Students Code Dash and Dot through Challenging Maze

The NES 5/6 Otters were challenged to get Dash through a maze, complete with block boundaries, angle variations, and light changes. Here's a video of some of the problem solving at work!  Six teams of 3 measured, calculated, and discussed for 40 minutes and then each team linked up to Dash and took it for a test drive. No one made it through the maze...this time around. They reflected on changes to make, and we'll do that when we return in 2017!

Having Dash & Dot visit NES was a huge success, so much so that our principal has agreed that we need to have our own! Thank you to Game Theory for sponsoring these robots and we look forward to watching their travels throughout Vermont in the coming months.