“I go through the coding process with them, but many of them have already done coding with me at some time, so it doesn’t take too long to catch on,” said Brott. “They walk through the tutorials about the basics, then they take their ideas for a game and experiment with the coding to programming Splats.”
Splats components are durable, programmable buttons that can sit on the floor or walls, and can be coded for time, light and sound. Using iPads or Chromebooks, students motto games such as relay races and Whac-A-Mole.
“They’ve been kicking a soccer ball aimed at a splat taped against the wall and counting to see how many times they could do it in a minute,” said Brott. “They’ve done relays where they step on a Splat that starts a timer then run to another that stops it. One group wants to put a splat against the backboard, but we’re still writing a code for that. We’ve also had some dance revolution games. Most of the ideas have come from the students.”
Having the Splats energized his students, said Evans. “We’ve included Splats in basketball and soccer, too, so instead of just coding and playing a game or race, we’ve tracked it into mainstream sports. We did a free-throw competition, and splats kept track of percentages and time. That sort of interaction has piqued students’ interest and created a whole different level of excitement. It’s not just us telling them what to do and what the rules are.”
Brott said another Splats plus is its appeal to different learning styles. “We have those athletic kids as well as the kids who want to be coding. Some kids are more auditory or visual. Splats lets them utilize the equipment whatever way works best for them.”
The primary takeaway, she added, is that kids are learning.
“They’re getting the activity along with the coding,” she said. “We want these kids to be active as much as we want them to learn coding and problem solving. We’re also connecting to kids who wouldn’t normally be into coding. Now everyone is coding and learning.”
And Brott counts herself among the learners.
“I’m not an expert or trained coder; I’m an educator who has a passion for it,” she said. “I make sure students know I don’t know all the answers. We’re learning right along with them.”
Information about Whitlow Elementary is online at forsyth.k12.ga.us/whitlow.
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