This week, Langley fourth-graders learned the fundamentals of computer programming during an intensive, week-long STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) workshop. Using a unique mini-course designed by i2 Learning, Langley's fourth-grade homeroom, technology, and science teachers introduced students to electronics and programming in a creative, engaging way.
Guided by the engineering design process, students created their own interactive monster with blinking eyes and sound. They learned basic sewing techniques as they designed and assembled a cuddly felt monster which they brought to life using their new-found programming skills. After learning how to design and build circuits, students used conductive thread to sew electronic components like LED lights and speakers onto their monster.
Next, they used the BlocklyDuino editor to program Lilypad Arduino boards, creating their own unique blinking pattern for the monster's LED eyes and composing short tunes for the monster's speakers to play. Blockly is a Web-based programming editor created by Google that uses blocks that link together to make writing code easier.
As they problem-solved and worked together, students not only learned about computer programming, but also developed valuable life skills such as persistence, flexible thinking, and collaboration. To help them reflect on the project, students also kept digital journals where they recorded their challenges, successes, and what they learned.
"It was wonderful seeing how eager and engaged the students were to design, program, test, problem-solve, and redesign their projects," says fourth-grade teacher Thida Lim. "The excitement of seeing the LED light up for the first time and hearing their tune play from their friendly monster made all the hard work worth it for the students."