donderdag 21 januari 2016

Coding with LEGO

A few weeks ago I joined the #hourofcode with my own kids at home. They needed to log in on with their Google Education account and could choose themselves to complete one of the challenges on the Hour of Code website. My youngest (7 years of age) picked the Frozen-challenge, which seemed a bit too difficult for her, but with a little help from me she gained herself the Hour of Code certificate at the end too.
While my three kids were processing on their challenges (my 9 and 11 year old took on the Minecraft challenge) I noticed that they were really engaged and proud that they could code, complete the challenge and create and play a game they created. From this moment on I wished that I was a teacher in technology, math or computer science. How I wished that I could do this in my classroom at school.

Well ... wihin a week I was the substitue teacher for an 8th grade math class. I knew what I was going to do and had them all logged in to and let them choose what challenge they would like to take. They liked it, earned their certificates and I wished that I could do some more of this ...

This week I attended the Apple Leadership Summit and BETT 2016 in London, UK. During the sharing sessions a school from South Africa shared what they did with coding and LEGO and I definately wanted to attend their hands-on workshop 'Think like a coder' too. During that workshop I was teamed up with a Finnish arts- and craft teacher and we needed to complete a challenge with the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robot. On a connected iPad with the programming software for the Mindstorms brick we were able to program the robot and make it do certain tasks. I've learned a lot and it was great fun! My son has a LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robot at home, so we will be programming that very soon.

At BETT 2016 I attended another workshop in the LEGO in Education booth about programming the LEGO WeDo 2.0 which was very nice! In small teams we needed to create a movable head for the WeDo robot Milo, in case that he or she is on a extraterrestial planet exploring the site. We succeeded to program the LEGO Brick using different types of schemes. In the end all the Milo robot versions created by the attendants were very different, or even better, unique. And that's what I want in my education as well.

instruction at LEGO stand at BETT 2016

LEGO WeDo 2.0 is the new coding for primary education and really nice to play with. Besides the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 this is on my wish-list as well. In fact I'm interested in becoming a LEGO certified professional or educator to share more about working with LEGO in the classroom on a professional base. One doesn't need to teach either Math or Computer science, but LEGO is fun to use in other subjects very easily, although coding isn't that easy to implement in other subjects, but definitely worth looking into.

Coding is becoming more and more an essential international language and should be in my opinion a compulsory subject in primary and secondary education. IT and therefor coding is business. Wheter students understand the language of coding it will improve their chance of a job in a wide variety of professions involved. Problems of today such as environmental problems, healthcare etc. might be solved with solutions coming from technology in the (near) future. So besides the fun part in learning it might be becoming very important that students learn the language of coding. The Tynker app or LEGO coding app for the iPad might be helpful.