Recently, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) Google Ignite CS project, which is part of the Center of Cyber Security Education and Outreach was host to groups of fifth graders from the Green Bay public school district brought in by the UWGB Phuture Phoenix outreach program to experience a University setting. For this event, the UWGB Google Ignite CS mentors, who are CS major students, hosted about 50 Phuture Phoenix students with the purpose of sparking an interest in computer science, especially for those fifth graders, who have never had any experience with it.
Among the many K-12 curriculum packages we have, is a beginner’s coding module with BERO robots. One of our Google Ignite CS mentors, Elizabeth Quigley, led this workshop with assistance from our other Google Ignite CS team members Ibrahim Budul and Sallie Petty. This workshop uses an excel spreadsheet to allow students to program a dance routine for small robots. They are able personalize a dance by, lifting the arms, spinning, turning lights off or on, even selecting from three different music choices. Once the students have a dance programed, we download it into the robot and they get to see their choreography. We also allow the kids to watch the robots in “dance mode” where the robots interpret the music and dance as well as use the “play mode” in the BERO app to move the robots.
The students who participated in this workshop were thrilled to watch their robots dance, and manipulate them in different ways. They were also amazed at how much code they had to program in order to get the robots to dance for even a few seconds. When we explained that this was what programming could do, their interest was engaged.
Exposure to easy and fun ways to code is so essential to kids at this age. Without it, they feel computer science is a complex and unattainable subject. We see study after study discussing how familiarity and exposure to something creates a comfort level with a topic which otherwise might appear to be completely out of their understanding. However, with exposure and “play” they may find something they previously felt was beyond them, is in fact something they connect to and love.
The new Center for Cyber Security Education and Outreach runs the Google Ignite CS program for pre-university outreach in partnership with Google , and UWGB is the first ever Google Ignite CS center in the state of Wisconsin, having started in 2016. Dr. Ankur Chattopadhyay, who is the founder and director of the Center, is the faculty mentor and lead PI of this Google Ignite CS program. The Google For more information on the Center, or our educational opportunities, please contact our Marketing and Social Media Manager – Sallie Petty at [email protected], or Dr. Chattopadhyay at [email protected].