Coding and robots are each pure instruments for encouraging collaboration within the classroom. At Sewickley Academy, we have now taken that collaboration to the subsequent degree by having Grade 5 college students step into mentoring roles for our kindergarteners who’re simply being launched to computer science. Right here’s how we did it.

From Studying to Robotics

Lately, our PreK via Grade 12 impartial faculty has been working to embody extra computer science alternatives throughout all grade ranges. These courses are a distinguishing issue of a Sewickley Academy schooling.

When college students, particularly our youngest learners, work with robotics, they’re studying coding expertise via what they see as enjoyable play. With the thrill of bringing these little robots to life, they usually don’t understand that they’re studying foundational ideas and expertise that future STEM studying will construct upon.

We began with one KIBO, which is a modular robotic designed to be utilized in schooling. KIBOs may be programmed visually utilizing picket coding blocks printed with varied motion and habits instructions. They’re nice for college kids who’re nonetheless studying to learn and are a enjoyable and straightforward approach to bring robotics and coding into the classroom with our youngest learners.

Grade 5 and kindergarten homeroom lecturers had already been working collectively to pair the older college students with youthful learners to learn to them. Each teams of scholars had been totally having fun with the partnership and it appeared pure to progress from studying to robotics. The kindergarten lecturers requested the Grade 5 college students to first discover the robotic, then assist their youthful buddies take part within the expertise. We bought sufficient KIBO kits to enable 10 groups to code and play collectively.

Off and Operating

Grade 5 simply leapt into their management positions. We defined to them that, although the robots had been designed for little youngsters, the ideas underlying them are the identical ones underlying thrilling know-how like self-driving autos. A few of them stated, “Oh yeah, my dad works on self-driving cars,” and all of them appeared to perceive and go proper for it. Within the classroom, they embraced the chance to function mentors and take duty for his or her little buddies.

We had a Remake Studying night time with a computer science focus final 12 months, and among the Grade 5 college students volunteered to showcase the robots. Simply as with their kindergarten buddies, Grade 5 inspired the guests to experiment with sounds, mild, and movement, taking part in collectively to accomplish their very own targets. The kids and their dad and mom who attended had been so excited to be a part of them and uncover what they might do.

Our kindergartners additionally cherished the buddy program. As a result of we have now 10 robots, the courses had to take turns. To start with, when one group had their first go to whereas others had been nonetheless ready, the kindergarten college students had been anxious to work with their buddies: “When is my buddy coming?” They had been excited concerning the robots, definitely, however the relationship with an older scholar was additionally a really huge deal to them. College students study otherwise in a peer-to-peer state of affairs: The kindergartners held on each element the fifth graders shared, and the Grade 5 college students eagerly stepped up to maturely information their buddies.

Exceeding Expectations

Pairing the kindergartners with Grade 5 mentors not solely stored them engaged, nevertheless it additionally inspired them to push their coding expertise farther by tackling larger issues than they may have in any other case carried out in an setting of solely youthful youngsters.

For instance, the kindergarten college students have small stuffed animals of their classroom that they simply love, and they wished to mount one on the robotic’s artwork platform. A number of the Huge Buddies helped them work out how to connect it, and then all of them labored collectively to program their animal robotic car to drive across the classroom.

Different youngsters wished their robotic to depart the room and go exterior, which included turning, driving out the door, and navigating down an enormous step. To assist the robotic negotiate the step, they made a ramp out of a ebook, then programmed the robotic to roll down the ramp exterior. It was really a reasonably difficult journey, primarily based on fairly a posh algorithm for younger college students to undertake.

Trying to the Future

The 12 months this program began, we didn’t have devoted time within the Grade 5 schedule for studying how to code and use the robots. Their lecturers had been extraordinarily beneficiant to find time for his or her college students to spend with me studying how to work with KIBO.

Each the kindergarten and Grade 5 lecturers who participated noticed huge advantages for his or her college students. These embody Grade 5’s satisfaction in constructive management and the kindergartners’ want to study. With PreK via Grade 12 on one campus, our administration encourages work throughout divisions and disciplines. Computer science instruction with the Huge Buddies program is a superb instance of the effectiveness of this initiative. We’re making ready for our first buddies’ go to of  2022-2023 and count on to additional improve the program this 12 months.

For instance, Grade 5 is at present studying to code in Scratch. They used this programming language to create an animation about one thing vital to them, resembling a sport they love or their favourite animals taking part in. They may share this work as a approach of introducing themselves to their new kindergarten companions after they meet.

Moreover, reasonably than instructing small teams of kindergarten college students just a few primary concepts about assembling and utilizing the robots earlier than assembly their buddies, as I did final 12 months,  this 12 months I’ll give their Huge Buddies the duty to introduce the robots, together with how to put them collectively and how to make them transfer.

As educators, it’s our job to assist college students join with the fabric we wish them to study. Typically one of the best ways to do that’s to get out of the best way and allow them to join with one another first.

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Julia Tebbets, Decrease Faculty Computer Science Instructor, Sewickley Academy

Julia Tebbets is the Decrease Faculty computer science instructor at Sewickley (PA) Academy. She may be reached at

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The Obsessed Guy
Hi, I'm The Obsessed Guy and I am passionate about artificial intelligence. I have spent years studying and working in the field, and I am fascinated by the potential of machine learning, deep learning, and natural language processing. I love exploring how these technologies are being used to solve real-world problems and am always eager to learn more. In my spare time, you can find me tinkering with neural networks and reading about the latest AI research.


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