This second semester, sixth graders embarked on developing their coding skills with a visually computing programming language called Scratch. Developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Scratch (http://scratch.mit.edu) makes it easy to create interactive art, stories, games and simulations and be able to share these creations online.
After a week of teacher-guided learning sessions with students, the succeeding lessons were taught by students themselves. The class was divided into groups and each group was assigned a set of blocks to teach and demonstrate to the rest of the class. While it was difficult to let go of the reigns in the classroom, the tasks proved to be more rewarding for students as they took ownership of their learning. It gave them a sense of responsibility that the rest of the class will only be able to understand the different blocks in Scratch if they teach them well.
Students learned to create animated stories with accompanying sound effects, through the use of motion, looks, sounds, and pen blocks. Being able to immediately see the output of writing codes or putting Scratch blocks together, students become aware that computer science or coding is not just a professional thing anymore. Programming is now something everybody can do to express creativity.
You may check students creations by going to their Scratch gallery online. Type http://scratch.mit.edu/users/ then add the student’s username at the end. Example: http:/scratch.mit.edu/users/janed22.
Do they? Some might say robots are just machines and, thus, cannot think. However, they have capacity to make decision based on the programs created for them. This semester, middle school continues with their robotics classes by exploring how robots think.
Robots think by sensing their environment through its sensors. A robot’s sensor is comparable to that of a human being. Robots see through their ultrasonic and light sensors; feel through the touch sensors; hear through the sound sensor; and move through their motors.
Related to this, students were taught how to systematically break down behaviors to solve robotic challenges. Creating flowcharts was a method to demonstrate this learning.