It’s not your grandma’s kindergarten class.
In an age of technology, local classrooms are trying their best to keep with the times to prepare students for success, including one Kindergarten class at Bear Creek Elementary.
Things were literally abuzz Monday morning in teacher Amber Rojas’ class as kids tried out some new technology.
They’re called Bee Bots — bee-shaped robots that teach the basic concept of computer coding with a few simple instructions.
“They’re going to understand preliminary coding and programing, which is simply just sequencing. They’re also going to be able to use the bot with activities that have to do with sight words and learning to read,” said Tracy Howk, the Instructional Technology Coach for Bend-La Pine Schools. “There’s just buttons on the top of the robot that have a go forward, backward, side to side, and they will put in a code to get them from point A to point B, and then they will need to adjust the code if they find that they have made a bug in their sequence.”
RELATED: Hermiston 6th grader’s math app wins Congressional App Challenge
RELATED: LIST: 2022-23 Inventerprise winners announced
Students explained the process in their own words.
“First you press clear and you set it down on which track you want…” said 6-year-old Wyatt, setting down the Bee Bot in front of a course made of blocks.
“You press forward and then forward, then you can turn to this side or this side or you can go back,” said 5-year-old Mariah.
Five-year-old Aiden pressed the buttons on the bot and let it fly — but it rolled right off the course.
When asked what went wrong, he said “I did too much … I pressed too many straights.”
The Bee Bots are a brand new addition to the district’s lending library.
“We brought them in and the first day, we really just kind of figured them out and played,” said Rojas. “And then we started talking about what are the uses of coding, and thinking about future jobs for these students and what they might be doing in the future.”
“At the elementary age, we’re really just looking for kids to love this and to become enthusiastic about it,” Howk added. “And this type of thing that they’re doing here in this Kindergarten classroom just encourages the kids to get a little bit of a taste, to feel good and confident in their ability, to keep moving forward with these computer science STEM-based activities in their classrooms. So that by the time they get to middle school and high school, they will choose them as electives and be able to graduate with some real skills that can help them get into colleges and careers related to these types of subjects.”
These littles will eventually move up to more advanced robots and a district-wide computer science platform for elementary schoolers called code.org.
It’s all to prepare them for life in a world much different from the one most of us grew up in.
“We were talking about what technology is, and it was fascinating to me that they don’t even realize how much it is a part of their life,” Rojas said. “So just thinking about those possibilities, you know, and then what they could do with it, they’re starting to get excited about it.”
The Bee Bots are starting to show up in other classrooms in the district, from Kindergarten up to second grade.
The district also partners with the Central Oregon STEM hub to include coding in curriculums all the way through the 12th grade.