EU Code Week with robots and microcontrollers


Picture provided by the author, attribution CC-BY

Does school have to be boring? Do children learn only when they follow the teacher’s instructions? No! EU Code Week is an opportunity to encourage students to learn programming and it is great fun. In addition, students can learn on their own, trying to work with new tools and using the knowledge of their peers.

During this year’s EU Code Week celebrations, we used the equipment purchased as part of Laboratories of the Future. Our school has been enriched with, among others, micro:bit microcontrollers micro:bit, Photon robots and new mBot robots, so we used it during our classes. First, I created a series of short instructional videos that introduced students to coding micro:bit in the MakeCode app. More projects were created very quickly by students. We could see projects presenting a dice roll, temperature measurement, simple math calculations or gifs. Students also became coding ambassadors as they showed students in other classes the possibilities of the microcontrollers. They had a lot of fun creating and presenting projects that allowed them to measure light intensity at various places of our school or using microcontrollers in the school hall to count steps.

Students of the seventh grade took care of the new Photon robots. Although some of them  already had the opportunity to work with these robots, opening new boxes, installing software and getting the robots ready for work gave them great joy. It was a real pleasure to watch them engage. They discovered the possibilities of robots themselves, created their first projects while having fun. Next they proceeded to create more complicated projects, using movement, changes of direction, changes of colors, sounds. I asked the students to create a robotic dance together and they found the proposal an interesting challenge. First, they chose the music. It was not easy, each student proposed a different piece of music but the one that won was “The Second Waltz”. Creating this waltz together was a great training of social skills and communication between children. The simultaneous movement of several robots and time matching was a problem that all teams worked hard to overcome together. The children discussed, checked the projects, improved them, to finally finish the work and record the joint achievement.

I was proud of my students because they did everything from the beginning by themselves. They were also my teachers in a sense. I don’t think they even realize how much they’ve learned from it. These were really classes that developed 21st century skills.

Iwona Kowalik is a Maths and Computer classes teacher in Primary School No 16 in Wrocław. She is a Scientix Ambassador and Code Week Leading Teacher inPoland. She is involved in promoting STEAM by organizing many events and international projects.

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