STEAM lab helps students learn about computer code

Published 1:31 pm Friday, September 15, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The new STEAM lab at Clanton Elementary has students excited about Project Lead the Way classes on engineering and computer coding.

During a class on Sept. 15, second graders played a game selecting cards in a particular order to tell Robot Rosie where to go.

“It’s preparing them to learn how to code in computers,” teacher Whitney Zugg said.

To open the class, Zugg put on a pair of doggy ears and stepped onto a maze of colored circles. Students then determined which direction she needed to go as Robot Rosie to her bone and then home. Students selected cards for each command.

“We are learning about algorithms … an algorithm is a language that computers understand,” Zugg said.

The cards were then read back to make sure the “program” was written correctly.

The activity is to help students learn about putting steps together to complete a task, so they can use those skills when creating computer code for their own electronic game later in the school year.

Zugg encouraged students that just as they can solve problems in the classroom, they can solve them outside the classroom because they are problem solvers.

“My biggest thing is that they learn how to not give up,” Zugg said.

Students become STEAMmates to work together to solve the problem.

Zugg encouraged students to find more than one way to get the character to her house.

“It’s like a puzzle. You have to keep them going,” student Bradon Perrett said.

He said there were a lot of challenges to getting the character home.

Student Bristol Doroff said she enjoyed the activity because she enjoys playing with games.

“We tried it all kinds of different ways and we helped each other,” Doroff said.

Student Andi Zugg said she enjoyed finding different ways to get the character to her house.

“There are only five ways that Rosie wants to go: forward, left, right, pick up the bone and jump, ” Andi Zugg said

Whitney Zugg said every student at Clanton Elementary comes to the STEAM lab once every 10 days. Zugg said this has made the scheduling interesting in order to make sure the students are learning as much as possible to be able to complete the final project.

“Everything is moving towards technology, this is going to provide job opportunities for these kids, ” Zugg said. “When they get out of high school and they pick whatever they are going to major in, or not, and they go into a certain field, they are going to have skills and knowledge that they would not normally have had, had they not been exposed to this.”

This is the first year for Project Lead the Way in Clanton schools. The program provides kids with projects to teach students STEAM subjects, and has been implemented for kindergarten through 12th grade. Each activity builds on the previous one.