The ‘Force’ of robotics and technology was with students at James Kennedy Elementary School on May 7.
With a Star Wars theme where students dressed up for the occasion, the school held workshops from guest presenters throughout the day, featuring lessons about robotics and coding.
After school there was an Inspire Showcase where James Kennedy’s Coding and Innovation Club showcased their work (inventions) as well as an open Robotics Playground for the community.
Throughout the day, the intermediate students attended micro:bit workshops, while the Walnut Grove Secondary Robotics Team paid a visit to the primary students, showing their Vex specialized robotics program.
Ann Pimentel, the school’s resource teacher, said the day is intended to highlight the idea of stepping into the “21st century learning, where we’re stepping into critical thinking, problem solving, digital literacy, and the whole pride design skills and technology.”
Pimentel said it was a “very multi-generational” educational event that involved participants ranging in age from five to adult.
“We’re opening up doors for conversations within the community, within the parents, teachers, students, to get hands-on (learning),” she said.
A highlight for Pimentel was a group of Grade 4 and 5 students who showcased micro:bit stuffies they designed.
“They were able to show the stuffies that they had designed. The micro:bit is a small computer board which they programmed to light up with different symbols on its computer board,” Pimentel said. “These girls were really excited to see the end product after doing this for five weeks was just phenomenal.”
Opening the doors to technical learning is an amazing thing, said Pimentel. “When you say, ‘here are the materials for what you want to create, the sky’s the limit.”
While some students aren’t as strong at spelling, math, or reading, “when you get them to build something or create something, they find success,” Pimentel said.
“As a resource teacher, I find that really encouraging because they feel that they’re able to show something for their talents.”
Since the theme day was Star Wars, students kids dressed up as Star Wars characters, and some adults got into the act, too. For example, Pimentel dressed as Princess Leia, who was not only princess of Alderaan, but was a senator in the New Republic and the founding general of the Resistance.
There was plenty of support from the business community, as well. Representatives from the Coding Company, Left of the Dot Media Inc., volunteered their time to teach the students the basics on how to code.