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First-graders teach robot dog new tricks

Like all dogs, Rosie loves a good bone. But as a robot dog, Rosie is obedient to a fault! (Make that obedient to a bug or glitch.)

Loyal to her computing mind, Rosie only does what she’s told—no more, no less—as Mrs. Larney’s first graders quickly learned during a hands-on, collaborative experience in Scotchtown’s STEAM Lab today.

While these students have been exposed to the basics of computer language  through the personal use of animated tools such as code.org, in this activity they worked offline and in groups. Part of a Project Lead the Way module, the lesson emphasized collaboration skills and learning by doing.

As part of the instructions for the activity, students discussed how to make the best contribution to their teams, and what might help them overcome any possible frustration or difference of opinion in a positive way.

Guided by their classroom teacher and technology teacher Michelle Girardi, students used cards with commands—right, left, forward, pick-up, jump—to write a program that would move Rosie through a dotted maze, one step at a time. First, she must find and fetch her bones. Then, she must hurry home to her doghouse to chew at ease.

After planning and programming Rosie’s steps on a game-board with a small toy, students tested their coding by reading out the succession of their commands to Rosie, played by one of their teachers on a larger, dotted course on the lab floor. If one of the cards called for the wrong move or appeared in the wrong order, they had a glitch and must replace the card to correct their program.

Following this visual and physical understanding of how coding works, students will return to the computer lab and continue building on their code-writing skills.

About Project Lead the Way

Project Lead the Way learning is being implemented at all grade-levels, across Goshen schools. Aligned with New York State’s Next Generation Learning Standards, the program encompasses all areas of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math). Teachers act as coaches and facilitators to encourage inquiry and collaboration, and inspire a love of learning.

In addition to training and achieving certification over the summer months, our teachers are supported year-round by the program’s comprehensive classroom resources.

More to come!