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Friday December 14, 2018 at 1:19pm Age: 192 days
Category: Minisink Elementary, District


The development of computer coding skills now begins in the younger grade levels, and a recent Minisink Valley Elementary second-grade class experience represents how skills can be taught in a fun and themed way.


Students in Sally Mankoo’s class used a recent library visit to code Blue-Bots robots to operate on a plastic grid mat.  The goal --- using a holiday theme ---was to program the robots to pick up a treat, visit with “the gingerbread man,” avoid “the villainous fox” and travel along a clear pathway to the gingerbread house, presumably where the robots would “be safe and happy.”


“The students are learning problem-solving, planning and sequential thinking, all important skills for beginning coders,” said librarian Mia McClean. “Students really enjoyed the challenge of this experience.”


And, who wouldn’t?


Students sat on the floor by their assigned plastic grid mats, plotting how to get to their robot to pick up the candies, visit their favorite “ginger-molasses-cinnamon-nutmeg” friend and stay clear of the shifty fox who probably had a ravenous appetite.


As part of their work, they needed to calculate how many grid spaces their robot needed for its travel route which would ultimately get it to the gingerbread house, while avoiding the fox’s “lair.”  


To get the robot to its final destination, they took those calculations and pressed the proper buttons on its topside.


Megan Gass, Gloria Torregrossa, Vivienne Kappel and Jake Juers were in one of the groups working on the calculations their robot would need.


'Bee-Bot Henry' is on the move


The students pronounced they named their robot “Bee-Bot Henry,” and discussed the best route for “him” to take.


“We had our teacher teach us how to do this,” said Gloria.


“You have to decide what way is the best way to get to where you want to go,” added Vivienne. “You have to press the button the appropriate times to get to the house.”


Megan quickly interjected: “But, don’t let him touch the villain!”


Coding also teaches problem-solving skills 


Mrs. Mankoo stressed the activity had multi-purposes.


“There’s a list of instructions they have to follow,” she said. “There’s a lot of problem-solving they have to do. I am happy they can understand that coding is something they can do and that they can do this sequentially.”


The foursome felt the activity was useful and fun.


“The best part is that you can program whatever you want him to do,” said Jake. “Then you can ‘clear him’ and do it again. You can learn from your mistakes.”


Megan agreed, adding: “I think the best part of coding is that you can have fun with each other and you get to learn a lot of coding.”


Vivienne had a more instructional perspective.


“You’re teaching the Bee-Bot what to do,” she said.


And sometimes, it’s simply seeing the end result of one’s work.

“The best part,” added Gloria, “is when you get to the place you want to be.”


Which, in life, is true for so many things.