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Junior programmers learn the code to success


Starting with robotic mice in Pre-Reception through to LEGO robots in Year Six, Junior School children have been learning about programming and STEM subjects in fun and exciting ways.

Pre-Reception pupils have been learning how to use robotic mice that are programmed simply by pressing direction buttons. The children are learning when they need to clear the programming, how to tell the mouse what they want it to do, and learning about directions with simple mazes for the mice to navigate.

“He found the cheese! The mouse ate the cheese!” said Thomas excitedly.

Beginning with simple commands such as forward, backward, turn left and turn right, the pupils lead the mice to the cheese at the end of the maze with ease and great excitement.

Year Six pupils have been enjoying coding in a much more advanced style, building and programming their own robots made from LEGO.

Pupils were split into teams to first design and build their robots, before being set several tasks that the robots had to be able to complete successfully. The pupils were joined by scientist Mr Kettle from STEMworks who introduced the children to different types of robots from electric hoovers to much more advanced and exciting models.

Pupil Will Hadfield said: “First, we were split into teams to design, construct and decorate our robots. We had a talk about coding and then used the laptop to program our robots. Next came the challenges and the points! The first challenge was to program our robot to start in a box on one side of the mat and get it past the line on the other side.

“Other challenges involved pushing some balls in goals, ramming bricks into the box, pushing a pen into different arcs on the mat and pushing bricks passed the line. It was a really fun day and it may just change your mind if you thought you didn’t like LEGO or coding!”

Annabel Huxley said: “The challenges were: push a pen for 60 points, push a brick for 30 points, knock off two bricks for 60 points and push balls into a net for a maximum of 70 points. Then he told us about infrared lights; we can’t see them but they are used lots. I really enjoyed the workshop and I learnt a lot of new things I didn’t think could be possible.”

These exciting and playful methods of teaching coding, programming and engineering are a great introduction to the world of STEM subjects which can lead to so many different types of career in today’s world.

Earlier in the school year, Year Five pupils demonstrated their teamwork, engineering and programming skills at another K’NEX workshop delivered by Simon Kettle. The pupils designed and built their own fairground model and learnt how to use computer programming software to control it.

The children created their own carousels or Ferris wheels using K’NEX construction kits and then wrote their own software programs using ‘Flowol 4’ software which made the models move, play music and show flashing lights. Pupils had the opportunity to experiment with engineering techniques that included different structures, gears and other mechanisms whilst modelling their design.

The pupils really enjoyed the day, with their attention fully focused throughout the tasks and a buzz of excitement in the air. Ella Merryweather from 5S said: “I came up with four seat design ideas for my Ferris wheel. The day was great fun,” whilst Charlie Singleton from 5C said: “It was amazing how we could make our funfair rides move using computer programming. I was impressed with all of the models.”

The day’s activities provided valuable insight into how computer programming and engineering are used in our daily lives. Nicolette Leung from 5S said: “I really enjoyed constructing my Ferris wheel.”