Coding Club Offered to Veterans Park Students
Posted On:
Friday, May 05, 2017
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On March 1st twenty Veterans Park 4th and 5th grade students were introduced to computer coding by joining the first coding club established at the school through an optional after-school program. Veterans Park Principal, Mrs. Melissa Knowles, is 100% supportive of this club stating, “I was extremely happy when Ms. Breen approached me with the idea of forming a coding club here at Vets Park. Exposing students to coding skills helps them develop math, logic, critical thinking and problem solving skills.  It also challenges students to think creatively and work collaboratively to reach a mutual goal."

“When Melissa asked for club proposals, this seemed like a good opportunity to bring computer coding to Veterans Park,” explained Ms. Allison Breen, the club’s adviser and 5th grade teacher. “I also felt that having a computer coding club would allow students a chance to produce their own games and have a better understanding of how the games that they play at home work behind the scenes.  Students need to demonstrate patience, perseverance, and attention to detail as they use their imagination to create their own games.”  

Breen explained that students have primarily focused on Scratch, a free programming language and online community where you create your own interactive stories, games, and animations.  They have also been exposed to Turtle Academy’s LOGO language to create dynamic and fun shapes.  

“At first, students followed directions to create a game, but could change the characters if they wanted to.  By the last session, students were recreating their favorite games and using their creativity to put their own ideas into action," said Breen.

As students became more proficient, they investigated other coding languages to increase their exposure to the world of coding, such as Dash & Dot on the Wonder Workshop website. Students controlled the robot using apps on an iPad or Kindle.  They learned how to drive the Dash Robot, including both his direction and speed, make the lights change colors, and also recorded messages so that Dash speaks. Some students also learned how to use the launcher accessory that transforms the Dash Robot into a projectile-launching machine (see video below).

"I joined coding club because I play a lot of video games and I thought it would be cool to learn how to make one,” commented Ava Peczka, 4th grade student.  “Also, because I thought it was going to be fun - it was!"  

5th grade student, Landon Disantim added, "I joined because I wanted to learn how to make my own games.  I really enjoy it because you cancreate your own games and everyone can play them which I think is pretty cool!"

Breen was excited to share that the skills learned in this class are being embraced by her fellow teachers and incorporated into other disciplines.  Veterans Park Music Teacher, Ms. Nicole Sousa, welcomes the opportunity for students to share and expand their coding skills in her classes.  Sousa remarked, "I'm excited to come together collaboratively to work on a project that involves creating music and coding the Dash Robot to play on the cute little xylophone it comes with!"

"I've been drawn to coding club myself after seeing and hearing how excited my students have been,” shared 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Amy Brown.  “I sat in on part of a session and got to learn about a program called Scratch, and how to control a robot named Dash. One of my student coders, John McClintock, even became a professor for a day to teach his tech class how to make their own games!"

“The long range goal of the club was to not only expose students to a variety of coding skills at the elementary level,” added Breen, “but to hopefully inspire each of them to be life-long learners of the computer sciences. I hope this club will spark their enthusiasm and generate a love for science and math.”

The last day of this after school club was April 26th, but Breen hopes to be able to offer this important and fun opportunity to students, again, next year. 

Below are photos and a brief video, highlighting some of the skills acquired during this class.

 Coding Club Members

 Photo Credits- Ms. Breen

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