With the start of the new school year we have been looking at ways to increase innovation and technical capability within our students and, with careful planning and the creation of a vision of what skills and dispositions our students will need for their future, we have reimagined the focus for ICT lessons. Already our students in year 5 and 6 work in a 1 to 1 computer environment and are learning the skills of basic coding from years 1 to 6, but we are always looking for the next step and a way to take their understandings and learning to the next level. This year we have made several changes to the curriculum and invested in several resources that will help our students learn in a new and innovative way.
Years 1 and 2 have always had the opportunity to learn physical coding and robotics through the use of BeeBots and we have extended this learning into years 3 to 6 with the introduction of Lego Mindstorms and WeDo 2.0. With 15 of each of these robotics kits we are able to teach whole classes how to build, program, control and use robots as a way to solve problems and the student engagement and enjoyment so far has been immense. The robots are controlled through Bluetooth from an iPad and each robot had several different motors for movement and colour, distance, sound and touch sensors, which is what makes the robots interactive. The ease of which students are able to drag and drop code together and then send it from the iPad to the robot is quick and seamless, but the true beauty of controlling them from the iPad is that it allows failures to be quickly identified, reprogrammed and then sent back to the robot in a new code – for the students’ failures are being celebrated and shared as part of the learning process.
After 4 hours of lessons with a year 6 class I asked them to comment on the learning that they have experienced and below are some of the reflections that they have made.
‘I got confused sometimes it really made me think when I had to write the code.’
‘Robotics was a very unique class. It is my first time doing it so I found it difficult at times but very interesting and lots of fun.’
‘It taught me how to use the robot in different ways and I got many ideas using it.’
‘Robotics is probably the most fun project I have worked on in my whole life! I really want to do this again. I loved everything: Building the robot, playing around with it, writing the code… everything.’
‘It was also fun working with my friend because I knew it was her first time too and because of that I wanted to try to push her limits and seeing what she could achieve and I did so for myself too. I loved every single second of these wonderful four hours.’
3D printing is still a new concept, but its implications on our future is huge. A 3D computer file of a tool or part could be emailed to the International Space Station and printed in space and the possibilities are endless. With the addition of a 3D printer to the classroom and our access to the printers and laser cutters at AP 2 we are able to make students ideas take physical shape and tie in Design Technology with Information Technology. Using online websites like Tinker CAD, which is a free site that the students have need accessing in class and at home, we are able to build concepts and designs individually and in groups.
The year 6 students have just begun their journey into 3D design, but they have already spent their lunch time in the ICT room watching their first designs being printed and are planning their next project to be designed and printed.
Keep looking at the school’s social media accounts to see what else is happening and I am sure that you will be amazed.
Mr Luke Dyer, ICT Leader