Nundle Public School: Education Week, kids learn robotics

HIGH TECH: Nundle Public School students Mily Edelbroek and Faith Smith. Photo: Madeline Link
HIGH TECH: Nundle Public School students Mily Edelbroek and Faith Smith. Photo: Madeline Link

STAR WARS has entered classrooms at Nundle Public School in the shape of a robotic ball called Sphero.

Kids are learning to program the droids, which move whichever way the driver inputs, in an App.

Principal Stephen Gadd said the high-tech lessons have kids excited about the future of technology.

“Quite often you open the door for kids to try something and they end up becoming your teacher,” he said.

“They become an expert in it so they learn to troubleshoot and problem solve, one of the crazy things with technology is what we get used to using right now might be obsolete in a few years time.”

Both the BB-8, BB-9E and cult favourite R2-D2 are Astromech Droids from a galaxy far, far away.

They’re designed by the same company that makes educational toy, Sphero.

And, it’s not just Star Wars droids these kids are fiddling with.

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Using Makey Makey, an invention kit that allows kids to use play-doh and wires to create their own gaming keyboards, or anything else really.

Mr Gadd said both inventions teach the kids to design algorithms and step-by-step processes to solve problems.

“We’re introducing kids to the idea that computers need to be driven by a human,” he said.

ROBOTICS: Nundle Public School students with Sphero, the robot from Star Wars. Photo: Madeline Link

ROBOTICS: Nundle Public School students with Sphero, the robot from Star Wars. Photo: Madeline Link

“The challenge we’re doing is designing a plough that would go over a paddock, to come up with efficient ways to agitate a whole paddock.

“Learning needs to be related back to something that’s useful to them, but we’re also looking at how we can develop flexible thinking and problem solving.”

Quite often you open the door for kids to try something and they end up becoming your teacher.

Stephen Gadd.

Year 5 students Miley Edelbroek and Faith Smith are working on a gaming keyboard using Makey Makey, which controls a game on their computer.

“It’s very technical, this is a work-in-progress but where you plug in the wires, that becomes the arrows,” Faith said.

“Our parents don’t know much about coding, we have to explain it to them – it’s pretty complicated.”

Principal Mr Gadd said the kids are learning the technology at different levels.

“Some are quite advanced in their thinking, our priority is to give them exposure, because they’ll be learning coding in high school,” he said.

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