This march during Teen Tech Week, students in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District will have the opportunity to touch the future by learning coding and computer programming skills.
Thanks to a grant provided by YALSA and Best Buy, students in our district will be given access to robots that they can use to learn coding skills and complete challenges. We will also provide students with access to the Never Alone game, which is a computer game where students can learn about the mythology of the Inupiat culture. This cultural connection may encourage our Alaska Native students to pursue a computer sciences degree so they can create games that highlight aspects of their culture. This will provide an opportunity to reach out to the underserved Alaska Native community present in our schools.
This grant allowed us to purchase four Ollie robots, two Sphero robots, and two finch robots which students will use drag-and-drop coding blocks to control their robots. We have created challenge matrices for each type of robot so that students of all skill levels can interact with the robots. As they play more with the robots they learn the importance of providing explicit directions, which leads them to edit and correct their codes to complete the challenge.
The other stations in our coding camp include three different iPad stations where students will visit three different coding websites to complete coding challenges and learn more about using drag-and-drop coding language blocks. They will have an opportunity to complete the hour of code event at one of these stations, which will help prepare them for using the more advanced coding programs that control the robots.
In an effort to make our coding camp kit accessible, we are also including two stations with instructions for “unplugged coding” where students can learn the basic principles of coding language without needing any technology.
We are thrilled to be able to provide this opportunity to the students of our community and encourage our students to pursue a career in computer programming. This kit will be donated to the district following Teen Tech Week so that teachers may use it with their classes in the future.
Rebecca Webb is a part-time Makerbelle and full-time teacher/librarian. She is currently working in Fairbanks, AK but looks forward to her next adventure in Northern California. She is passionate about the Maker Movement and STREAM initiative and hopes to incorporate these into her future libraries.