Arroyo 4th grade teacher Heidi Geiges wanted make coding come alive for her students. With funding from the SCEF Educator Innovation Fund, she purchased 13 Dash robots and 3 Dots, which are hands-on, programmable robots used to teach students coding and robotics skills. Students worked in pairs using mini ipads (also purchased with the grant money) to program their Dash robots with the Blockly app, a visual drag and drop coding tool, as well as the Wonder app.
Wonder codes the way we think providing different quests to complete along the way. Each pair coded their robot to follow a specific path on the floor, and when they finished, they watched Dash light up and race around the room following their instructions. Some even took the challenge a step further by adding obstacles in the path to avoid, ramps to ascend, or coding Dash to make angled turns, spins, dance moves, and even animal noises. Additionally, pairs teamed up with other pairs to complete each other’s challenges. When asked what makes the Dash robots so special, one of her students enthusiastically replied, “I love that it involves coding!”
By incorporating the Dash and Dot robots into her teaching, Ms. Geiges was able to provide a multi-sensory approach to 21st century STEM learning — moving her students away from just coding on a computer screen and into a more active and collaborative social community. As a result, her students strengthened skills ranging from creative problem solving and teamwork to computational thinking and digital literacy. It also comes as no surprise that her students had so much fun, they developed a new found love for coding as well.