LANCASTER — Mariposa Computer Science Magnet School conducted the second of its three Epic Builds Showcase in partnership with Code to the Future on Wednesday afternoon.
Since November, the elementary students have been using block based coding by integrating it with Lego robotics to solve real world problems.
“The skills the students are learning— critical and creative thinking— takes a training of the mind,” Principal Michael Choate said. “They are developing a growth mindset that will lead to a pathway of a success, that then leads to greatness.”
From kindergarten to sixth-grade, the students are learning to be their own coders, mastering different techniques of block-based coding and debugging that will benefit them not only in the technology and computer science field, but also for life.
“This is our first year so we are learning as we go,” Choate said. “When I brought this vision to the staff, it took a level of commitment from everyone to fully embrace it. I am a proud principal who feels great about what we’re doing here. The level we are able to achieve in helping out our community goes well beyond just the classroom walls.”
Choate was presented two certificates from representatives from Senator Scott Wilk and Assemblyman Tom Lackey’s office as a congratulatory recognition of the work they have been able to accomplish in the field of technology and coding.
“We are so happy to hear about the big things this computer magnet school is doing in our community by preparing its students for the future,” said Donna Hill, representative for Wilk.
“My heart is just so happy to receive this recognition from these community leaders,” Choate said.
In the classroom, the students are taught lessons on how to code once a week.
Each grade is practicing something different. Kindergarten through first-grade worked with Legos to build houses and put them together to form towns. They learned how to repeat blocks to build the structure and also completed a writing component that reflected what they learned in the process— collaboration, problem solving and seeing patterns.
Second and third graders worked with a Lego robotics app called WeDo that allowed for one motor and one movement to accomplish a goal.
Third-grade teacher Anna Hill taught her class to build a robot with a specific function and applied it to different scenarios in real life.
“It’s been a really fun opportunity for the kids to flourish and practice their confidence and patience,” Hill said.
Fourth through sixth graders operated on a Lego EV3 mindstorm app that allowed the children to build different robots, such as cranes and bulldozers, where the students came up with ideas of how their creation could be used in the real world.
Fifth-grade student Jaciel Hinojo and her partner came up with a color sorter machine that scanned the Lego, determined its color and then sorted it into the corresponding color’s bucket.
“I screamed when it moved for the first time,” Hinojo said. “I was so excited it worked.”
Hinojo said her real life problem the robot could solve is sorting groceries in the grocery store.
“The students have had to work through their frustrations to achieve something truly remarkable,” fifth-grade teacher Stephanie Hernandez said.
Another fifth-grade student, Daniel Monterossa, chose to build a robot that could pick up dangerous things and put it in a pile to make it so it would be safe for companies to build around. His conveyor belt type machine transported a marble into a sorting bin.
“My favorite part was building it,” Monterossa said. “The hardest part was working with the sensor and estimating it so the timing of the ball drop was perfect.”
Like most of the students as Mariposa Computer Science Magnet School, Monterossa looks forward to learning more about coding and eventually building a career out of it.
The third cycle of the Epics Build Showcase, starting in April, will include text-based coding using Java Script in the game of minecraft.
“It fit with our culture and readiness to take computer science to the next level,” Hill said. “It has created a more positive culture within the students and is really preparing them for their next stages of life as well.”
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