Fourth-Grade STEAM Project Introduces Programming

Based on a unique mini-course designed by i2 Learning, Langley's fourth-grade homeroom, technology, art, music, and science teachers are collaborating to introduce students to electronics and programming in a creative, engaging way. Guided by the engineering design process, Langley fourth-graders are creating their own interactive monsters with blinking eyes and sound. Unlike the past two years, when this project was done during one intensive week, this year's fourth-graders are working on this project over the course of six weeks so that the learning is infused throughout the curriculum.

Students are learning basic sewing techniques as they design and assemble a cuddly felt monster which they bring to life using their new-found programming skills. After learning how to design and build circuits, students use conductive thread to sew electronic components like LED lights and speakers onto their monster.

Using the BlocklyDuino Editor to program Lilypad Arduino boards, students create their own unique blinking pattern for the monster's LED eyes and compose 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.

This project not only teaches students about computer programming and the design process, but also develops valuable, real-world skills such as persistence, flexible thinking, collaboration, and the ability to draw from many disciplines. To help them reflect on the project, students are keeping digital journals to record their challenges, successes, and what they learn.