PEI

Robots take over at P.E.I. school as students learn to code

The room at Englewood School in Crapaud, P.E.I., is abuzz — quite literally — with moving Lego robots controlled by computer code written by students.

Robotics kit teaches problem solving, logical thinking skills, says teacher

The kits are on loan to the school, and can be requested through the Home and School Federation. (John Robertson/CBC)

The room at Englewood School in Crapaud, P.E.I., is abuzz — quite literally — with moving Lego robots controlled by computer code written by students.

The coding club, led by teacher Sharna Reynard, is working with robotics kits on loan through P.E.I.'s Home and School Federation.

Students have been meeting over recesses to work on making the robots move. (John Robertson/CBC)

The federation applied and was approved for funding for the project in 2014.

Federation president Cory Thomas explained that there are now 14 robotics kits and 14 Raspberry Pi — a small computer processor for learning programming — kits, which schools and local Home and School associations across the province can request through the Home and School Federation.

The kits give students hands-on experience. (John Robertson/CBC)

"I think that you need to foster — whether it be robotics or art or what have you — I think that is all important parts of learning and a lot of learning can take place kinaesthetically through hands-on activities," said Thomas. "I think it is all good stuff."

Sacrificing recess for robotics

The club has been meeting during some recesses since the winter holidays. Through coding programs on laptops they have been able to get their creations to move.

Skyler Campbell (left) and Owen Connolly work on the code to make their robot do what they want it to. (John Robertson/CBC)

"You put commands into the computer and it does it, but it's a bit more complicated than that," explained student Owen Connolly.

"You get to see what you can make it do. You make it chomp and others, you, can make it move and then eventually it would be cool to get on to bigger stuff," added Skyler Campbell.

Teaching logic, troubleshooting

The kits can teach the students a number of valuable skills, said Reynard.

"As the students work their way through it, if they're trying to troubleshoot and find problems, it's a good way to develop their logical thinking skills as well," she said.

Teacher Sharna Reynard says the kits teach students logic and problem solving skills. (John Robertson/CBC)

"You have to set it up right, so if it breaks, you just put it back together and you try again and try again," explained Makaylea Shaw.

The students have learned to get the robots to do their bidding. (John Robertson/CBC)

'Machines are the future'

The students also feel their new skills will serve them well.

"Machines are the future … so I think it's very important," said Connolly.

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With files from John Robertson