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Fall SAVY 2019: Day 2 – Programming and Robotics (Grades 3/4)

Posted by on Monday, September 30, 2019 in Grade 3, Grade 4, SAVY.

Today these programmers learned that their job isn’t always creating new technology. They became aware that a big part of their job description is fixing or “debugging” programming problems. We started the day reading more of Peter Brown’s, The Wild Robot Escapes, to put our brains in the futuristic mindset of the world of robots.

While learning more about coding, we leveled up with a lesson on looping actions that we need our robot to perform. A loop is the action of doing something over again, or a synonym of repeat. We looped code together instead of repeating the steps over and over again. First we investigated this process with an unplugged (no technology) activity. Programmers wrote a code to build a model of stacked cups for their robot friends to follow. Instead of repeating the same steps, they problem solved to loop them together to save time. These new skills were transferred to our code.org platform where the programmers worked through online puzzles to “debug” and add loops to finished code.

Then, we started our journey to conquer conditionals. This process requires problem solving using sequential true/false statements. We played a card game that had rules written in conditional format. To do this we practiced “if…then…” statements and added more conditionals with “if….else….” Such as “If (red card drawn) your team gets a point. Else (red card not drawn) other team gets a point. This is an advanced skill that can be difficult to pick up. I am really proud of the perseverance I have seen while working on puzzles with conditionals. 

Continuing with our theme of robots in the workplace, we studied new technology. We watched a video of a robot in Japan that picks up an ice cream cone, pours a perfect cone of ice cream, and places it on a tray for pickup. To study this robot system, we completed a systems chart and found the inputs, boundaries, elements, interactions, and outputs. The best part of the discussion was when we answered the question, “How could sensor data be used with “AI” to avoid a mishap?” These programmers brought lots of excitement and critical thinking to what mishaps could occur and how “AI” could solve them.

Our day concluded with the best part: building our robots! Teams used all of their concepts of inputs, interactions, elements, outputs, boundaries, coding, engineering, collaboration, perseverance and all other things mathematics I forgot to mention, to construct a human like robot. I am so proud at how much our team building skills have improved in just 2 short days together. They progressed much faster through the building process than the day before. These robots take time to put together, but they are still very focused and excited!

Tonight ask your programmers:

  • What is artificial intelligence?
  • How do robots use sensors?
  • Why is it important to know how to “debug” programs?
  • Why is it important for programmers to persevere?
  • Why are conditionals important to a program?