An educational concept receiving a lot of discussions now is STEM. STEM which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, acknowledges these disciplines are cross-curricular in that you can’t teach one of these disciplines without incorporating the others. Coding is becoming so popular because it is an easy way to teach STEM in schools.
How We Use Coding Today
Coding is all around us now. When you consider how many electronic products we use on a daily basis, you quickly realize how coding has become an integral part of our lives. Whenever we use our microwave, our vehicle, our phones, our TV and our bank card, we are using our coding skills. But we don’t use these things in school so how do we teach coding in our classes?
The Connection between Robots and Coding
Robotics is one way we can do this. Depending on the type of robot you are working with, you can teach visual design, mechanical engineering, patterning, transformations, Cartesian grids, direction, algebra, and so on. The key part of robotics is the robot will give you true and immediate feedback on your work in a visual way. If you do your work correctly, the robot will do what you want. If you do it incorrectly, it won’t.
Robots can Teach Learning Skills
The most important part, though, is how many curriculum expectations you can teach. On our report cards, we evaluate both subject matter and learning skills. Coding requires students to problem solve, work both independently and in collaboration, and show initiative, organization, and responsibility. When you consider that most employers believe they can teach the necessary technical skills but say learning skills are much harder to teach, you can understand why the educational system considers learning skills to have equal importance as academic skills.
Robots can Teach Academic Skills
Coding also teaches those academic skills. The curriculum requires students to demonstrate the ability to plan, identify audiences, research sources, use inquiry questions, communicate information and evaluate success in all subject matters. When you add in the science concepts, math concepts and language concepts that make up coding and robotics, it makes sense that teachers are using robots like Spheros, Cubelets, EV3’s, Milos and Dash and Dot to teach classes in a highly interactive and engaging manner.
Robots can Support Special Education
Coding is also the great equalizer as well. We recognize that all students learn differently. Our students that find school hard have coding available to them for support. Coding allows them to organize their day, store their work, help them regulate their emotions, support speaking, reading and writing challenges, explain social situations and gives them accessibility to all parts of school. In a typical day, I will see students use coding to independently drive a wheelchair, check their ipad for the next subject, log into the Drive folder to get their work and electronically send it to their teacher, play their song list, use visual pics to communicate their needs, have the computer read the story to them, make vocabulary suggestions while correcting spelling and grammar mistakes and interact with students who was confused by a particular social conflict.
In the Ottawa Catholic School Board, we recognize our students must have coding skills to become a contributing member of our society. We also celebrate the fact coding skills allow all students to have opportunities as never seen before. Thirty years ago, we used to put certain students in institutions. Today, we look to them to lead the charge in creating a more inclusive society. They are able to do so through coding and robotic companies like Robotshop.com. And that makes it all good.