Ursuline 3rd graders focus on coding

By Beth Donze, Clarion Herald

Emily Pastorek, the K-7 technology teacher at Ursuline Academy, said she strives to give her students hands-on experience in the hard work that goes into the programs, apps and electronic games they use and enjoy every day.

In other words, Pastorek wants them to know that they can be creators of technology, and not just users of it.

On Dec. 5, Pastorek’s third graders devoted their technology class to sequence coding a program that enabled their robot, Dash, to successfully round up three stray reindeer. The class was held in conjunction with Computer Science Education Week, which challenges schools worldwide to incorporate at least one hour of coding into class time in early December.

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week, Ursuline Academy third graders devoted a technology class to coding a program that directed their robot Dash to round up stray reindeer.

The Ursuline third graders worked in small groups to complete the collaborative coding challenge, using an app called Blockly. Their program focused on the manipulation of three control buttons:

• Using the “Drive” button, they told Dash to turn left or right, backward or forward. They also had to figure out what numerical value to feed into their program to make Dash move diagonally, rather than in a straight line.

• Using the “Sound” button, the programmers had to make Dash say “Ay yai yai” after he arrived at each reindeer. “Dash is going to be coming to the rescue, but the reindeer will only respond to a very specific call,” Pastorek told the third graders.

• Finally, the “Animation” button was used to program the students’ final prompt: making Dash do a “victory dance” after corralling the trio of reindeer.

“It was funny how Dash kept running into the reindeer. He knocked them over,” said third grader Lucia Avila, noting how programming involves lots of trial and error. “But I really like obstacle courses and challenges,” Lucia added.

Once they have completed and tested their programs, the girls will film a video to share on their digital Seesaw portfolio.

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