WITH coding now a curriculum priority in Victoria, schools are finding innovative ways to get students involved.
Most of the time, it involves robots.
St Thomas’ Primary School in Sale has taken delivery of a squadron of Spheros, programmable rolling robots, and Edisons, which can be combined with Lego bricks.
Spheros, in Star Wars disguise, were one of the hottest Christmas gifts in 2015, but have a huge potential for teaching simple coding.
St Thomas’ information and communications technology coordinator Duncan Arnup said students were having a ball.
“The kids are using an iPad to program the Spheros, and they’re programming them with their spelling words, programming how they want the Sphero to work, and the Sphero creates their spelling word for them,” he explained.
“They’ve programmed their Edisons with a computer, tracking a line, and the kids are using clapping to control them.”
Mr Arnup added the new teaching tools would lead to better results in a range of areas.
“This is gold,” he said.
“We’ve found that when we use these types of things, the kids improve because they’re so engaged in the activity — the results show they’re doing a better job,” he said.
“The thing is ... some of the jobs these kids will be doing when they grow up haven’t even been invented yet, but they’ll revolve around technology and coding, so it’s very important they get a basis in, and an understanding of it now.”
Principal Anita Little agreed.
“They’re engaged and enthused about learning, and how to make things work, and problem solving,” she said.
“It also empowers teachers, knowing they have the resources, and they can begin things and follow them through — it motivates them too.”
The new robots were funded by Esso, as part of the company’s Bright Futures Grant program.
In Gippsland and the Mornington Peninsula, 23 schools have shared in more than $80,000 in funding to improve science and mathematics programs.
Esso onshore surveillance group supervisor Charles Doube said learning these skills now would help in the future.
“We have teams of geologists, engineers, environmental scientists, mechanics, electricians — all those roles have a foundation in science,” he said.
“By providing regional schools with the opportunity to have access to the latest resources, we’re ensuring these kids have an opportunity to nurture an interest in maths and science, no matter their geographical location.
“Being from an engineering background myself, I use it every day, and these kids already look more advanced than me.
“As soon as they said robots, I said, ‘that’s me, I love robots’.”