During the third week of Eureka! Camp, each of us led a robotics class. I was assigned to teach the 7th grade class, Smart, and I led the robotics lesson with one of the women in my DukeEngage group. I will describe the activities that we did in this class and share what our 7th grade girls accomplished during this week of robotics.
On Monday, the girls built the Mindstorms Robots that they used throughout the week. The girls were separated into groups, and each group was given a direction manual, which included step-by-step instructions. It took the girls approximately two hours to successfully build the robots. The girls did not need much help from my partner, Belanie, and I, and they communicated and cooperated well within their groups.
Once each group had finished building their robots, we taught the girls to code with the NXT Mindstorms software. The girls learned how to utilize coding to instruct their robot on where and how to move. We built various mazes on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the students had to create codes that would enable their robot to move through the mazes without traveling outside of the mazes’ boundaries. They coded their robots to move in a straight line, to turn, to accelerate, and to travel in the shape of a square. It was evident that the girls enjoyed coding and improving their codes to successfully maneuver their robots through the mazes.
During the last day of the robotics class, each group created a maze. Belanie and I assigned each group to complete one of the mazes that had been designed by their peers. In spite of the fact that no group finished creating a code for its’ maze, it was clear that the girls were more comfortable with coding and had a better understanding of coding than they had had at the beginning of the week.
I loved observing the girls as they learned to code and realized that coding is not as difficult as it seems. I am grateful that these girls are experiencing some of the wonderful things that the field of STEM has to offer and learning that they can achieve any task that they set their minds to.