Mice friends Meera and Octavio love to play in the meadow. But now, Octavio has hurt his foot and will be unable to run through the field to collect food, find water, and visit friends. Meera has an incredible idea. They will program a robot mouse to help carry them through the field until Octavio’s foot is better.

CFC Districts 69 and 67 Kindergarten students will help Meera and Octavio to program a robot mouse. While they are programming, they will also be tackling the Next Generation Science Standard (NGSS): ‘Relationships in Ecosystems’ and Common Core Mathematics Standards as they learn about the needs of animals while counting, measuring and recognizing patterns.

‘There are more than 223,000 vacant software developer jobs in the United States. Those eye-popping statistics are the headline takeaways from a new interactive map designed to illustrate the huge and growing gap between the tech industry’s need for talent and the supply of educated coders. These jobs, which on average pay more than $104,000 in annual salary, are scattered throughout all corners of the United States and often sit unfilled for months as companies struggle to find and recruit individuals skilled in writing code.’ Source: ACT | The App Association, June 20, 2016

How do schools respond when trying to expose and excite children to the possibilities of programming? In partnership with Niles HS District 219, Districts 69 and 67 in Skokie and Morton Grove begin by embedding programming and coding into family programs, core K-8 STEM
curriculum and after school clubs.

Preliminary introductions into coding start with Classrooms First (CFC) sponsored parent and child events during the Kids Can Code evening series.  Children and parents grades k-2 begin their journey playing Robot Turtles. Once exposed to the basics of coding instruction they move on to Scratch Jr and then onto simple coding of VEX robotics. Parents and children in grades 3-5 start by taking apart computers to explore the inner workings before coding with Scratch and moving onto VEX robotics. A majority of families then use Scratch Jr. and Scratch at home while some add programmable robots to their toy inventory. This early exposure to the basics of coding with 1:1 parent support helps students come to the classroom prepared to continue their growth as they learn this ‘new language’!

During the school day in addition to numerous programming experiences using Hour of Code, Scratch Junior and Scratch, pre-K children will be coding their codeable caterpillars to learn the basics of block coding, patterns and directions. While Kindergarten students will program robot mice, first grade students will embark on a moon adventure. After designing and building rubber band rovers to navigate the rough moon terrain (NGSS: Earth’s Place in the Universe), students will program unmanned rovers (ozobots) to move around moon obstacles to further explore the moon surface. Second Graders will help Mateo and Mia stop beach erosion and help to save the sea turtles nesting grounds! They will enhance their coding skills by creating a storyline using Scratch Jr to accompany their STEM in Action Shrinking Shore Exploration (NGSS: Erosion, Processes that shape the Earth).    

During late elementary, grade 3 students are helping Farmer Grady to keep his crops safe during extreme weather (NGSS: Earth and Human Activity).  They will extend their understanding as they code drones to survey Farmer Grady’s fields. 4th graders are creating messages in their Digital Relay Module (NGSS:Waves and applications). As they analyze their Beryllium mine maps they will program their Ozobots to monitor their mines. Fifth Grade students, after perfecting their Great Toy Designs (NGSS: Structure and Properties of Matter) will design their own electronic ‘toy’ by applying coding skills using MIT Scratch.

In the 6th grade science curriculum (NGSS: Sensory Receptors Responding to Stimuli), ‘a neighbor has recently had an accident and experienced significant hearing loss. In the event of a fire, he or she may not be able to hear the alarm system in the building.’ Students will use a Sphero to create a program that will provide a visual signal (e.g., using color) and a movement-based signal (e.g., rolling or jumping) to alert the neighbor that there is a problem in the building. The design will communicate information about how serious the problem is, and what kind of action he or she should take. Throughout 7th and 8th grade, students will continue to grow their coding skills with extensive exposure to coding in the PLTW Gateway courses Design and Modeling and Robotics.



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