Lower school tudents are having “aha” moments as they venture into computer coding during STEAM class.
Using Lego Mindstorms, fifth graders are learning to program and command EV3 model robots—it’s a task that requires teamwork, persistence and problem solving.
“The students face some hurdles when programming. Some are regular technical glitches, but they have to follow each direction carefully,” lower school STEAM teacher Brad Buckner explained. “One wrong input command and the bot doesn't carry out the program correctly.”
That’s part of the learning process in Buckner’s classroom—and beyond. All month, teams of students have spilled into the hallway outside room 24 to spread out parts and pieces and give their bots room to roam.
The bots can move forward or backward, spin, race, push and pick up objects based on what grade 5 controllers command them to do. Sometimes a command falls flat, but going back through the steps to find a solution is a valuable part of the experience.
“With a new project, students tend to work out their own problems with another student instead of coming to the teacher for every question. It leads to some those ‘aha’ moments when they figure out the problem on their own,” Buckner said.
Abby Hill and Tyler Bauman had one of those moments when their bot successfully completed commands to move, turn and push an object across the floor.
“Mine works!” Hill said excitedly as she watched her EV3 go through its paces. Not every group had similar success coding their bots on the first try, but Buckner helped them transform frustration into a learning moment.
“Sometimes that’s part of the process to get to a solution,” Buckner told students during a recent class. “Let’s take another look at your instructions and you can see where you need to make an adjustment. “ Then it was back to work.
“After they complete the project, I want them to walk away feeling they have built something from the ground up. Like an art project, the process and end product are what the students enjoy the most."

The Barstow School

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