School District 47’s first Day of Code took place at Westview Elementary School last week. Some 200 grade six and seven students from around the district participated in a program that split students into random teams to master six technological activities.
Not unlike a sports day, code events focused on team building and having fun while learning valuable skills. Westview Elementary vice principal Lisa Lewis said the big win was observing the collaborative spirit among students.
“The best thing is seeing all the kids from the different schools working together,” said Lewis. “The groups are totally mixed, they’re not with their friends. It’s been really neat to see how they’re working as teams.”
Activity stations included sphero design, microbits, Pac-Man live, Lego jousting and “Code a dance,” an activity that had students take well-known song choreography and translate it into a code. Moves from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” and “Macarena” were on display in the Westview gymnasium.
“They’re watching a dance video and then writing the instructions out for another group on what those steps are,” said event organizer Matthew Hull. “It’s not literal code but taking the moves they see and translating them into text.
It is a fun way to employ progressional, computational thinking, he added.
Sphero design was a favourite with many students. The activity used small robotic balls as part of a design challenge.
“Sphero was the most fun,” said grade seven student Naomi Krowitz. “You get to control it and make it have sounds.” Fellow grade seven student Kaitlyn Penson also said she liked sphero.
“But I liked the microbits as well,” she said. “You can do rock-paper-scissors with it.”
Kelly Creek Community School teacher Andrew Shostak said the level of skill students arrived with was a nice surprise.
“They’re pretty good programmers coming in,” he said. “Better than I anticipated, which is great because lots of kids are being successful.”
Overall the day was fun for students and staff alike, according to Westview Elementary teacher Steve Boettger.
“The kids are totally engaged and learning a lot,” said Boettger. “It’s interesting to see which leaders come out.”