Sarah Peterson’s grant from the Student Excellence Foundation provided her the opportunity to purchase three different robotic systems to start a school coding club for fifth graders at Lincoln Elementary School. Osmos sets, Sphero robots and Dot and Dash are hands-on materials to help students learn about the burgeoning field of coding. For 21st century learners, coding is an essential tool for improving academic performance and developing necessary skills for the workforce of tomorrow. It helps children with math, writing, creativity and building confidence.
Ms. Peterson believes the idea of a before-school coding club promotes problem solving and logical thinking as students learn how coding works. Different devices provide different learning opportunities for learners at various levels (known as differential learning). Working as small groups or teams on these various materials the students learn both collaboration and creation, all the while reinforcing their math and science knowledge.
Initially, Ms. Peterson anticipated starting the club in the fall of 2017 with a goal of possibly having up to 30 students sign up. She now has over 100 participants! There are six groups: three made up of 2nd and 3rd graders, and three groups with 4th and 5th graders. This opportunity for before-school enrichment gives students a unique learning experience they would not ordinarily have.
Ms. Peterson said she has seen an evolution during the year of how the students use the materials. But when asked what the greatest success of the grant was for her she replied: “Seeing kids have fun figuring out the problems, knowing they are going to fail along the way but realizing that is part of the process. They will figure it out.”
Do you know a Community School District 200 educator who would like to apply for a Student Excellence Grant? The Foundation offers a Fall and a Spring grant cycle each year. Please feel free to share information regarding grant procedures with any District 200 educator. Classroom teachers, administrators, LLC Directors: any staff member with student contact is eligible to apply!