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News : Education Apr 15, 2015 - 6:37:35 PM

Long Ridge School develops a robotics program

By Long Ridge School

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At The Long Ridge School students in grades two through five engage in a wide range of activities during time that is set aside for guided exploration and creation every Friday. Recently, after the students participated enthusiastically in the national Hour of Code, Robotics was added to the Friday Activities program.

Many educational robot systems are toylike structures with the electronics encased in plastic and preassembled. This was something that teacher Rachel Wagle and Technology Specialist Pam Adams wanted to move away from, designing a program that would simulate the engineering process as much as possible and demystify electronics. The students paired up to build navigational robots, modeled after the Mars Rover, that would travel up to 50 feet.

Rather than give the children partiallyassembled robots, they were provided with bare components, tools, and schematics to build the basic platform with the motor and power supply. After assembling the robots the students moved on to programming them.

Coding has become a part of the everyday computer curriculum at The Long Ridge School. In Robotics students learned more indepth code, required to make the robots move, and then developed 50step instructions for navigation. The children learned about debugging their programs and the limitations of their robots. Even though the students had built and programmed the robots, when they actually saw them work for the first time they were so excited they were immediately inspired to explore what else their robots could do. A secondgrade student described his robot as a "moon dancer."

After the initial testing was over, three of the fifthgrade girls shared their robots with the children in the Nursery classes, showing them how to do basic programming. The younger children are already looking forward to their turn in Robotics.

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