Sparking a Passion for Robotics and Engineering in Our Elementary School Students!

  • Elementary School
Sparking a Passion for Robotics and Engineering in Our Elementary School Students!

Invent, Build, Design, Create, Code! Students’ passions for digital “maker culture” are being ignited daily in our newly purpose-built Elementary School Spark Lab. Students in grades 1 - 5 use the Spark Lab to interact with and explore robotics, coding, circuitry, physical computing, AR/VR, multimedia, and pretty much everything in between.

The new Spark Lab space, solely dedicated to existing and emerging technologies, gives students and teachers an instant overview of the many robotics and engineering tools that the school has. It’s no wonder that grade 3 students Cruz and Alfie enter wide-eyed when they visit during recess. 

Making music with code. Two Grade 4 students explore BBC Micro:bit, eagerly sharing tips with each other.

But this space is anything but ‘child’s play.’ Designed to help students develop critical digital competencies, including computational thinking, innovative design skills, and creative communication, the Spark Lab’s purpose is similar to that of our Makerspace - to ignite a passion for the possibilities. 

Students using bananas to interact with a circuit board to control a computer interface.

Here, students will find the latest technology for digital exploration and development, from Cubetto, which teaches the principles of coding to children as young as 3 years old, to the Lego Robotics kits WeDo and Mindstorms Core, to the award-winning BBC Micro:bit kit, a pocket-sized computer that introduces students to how software and hardware work together. Some of the technology is brand new to the students. Other technology will be familiar since our school has a long history of investing in robotics and engineering resources.

Mr. Curran helps a student who is working with a Mindstorms Core set.

Cruz and Alfie settle on a Dash, a programmable robot that interacts with its environment. Mr. Dave Curran, Instructional Coach for Technology in our Elementary School, asks the students if they’ve completed all the starter challenges for Dash. “Yes, I know them. I’ve done all the challenges,” says one of the students, eager to get started. Further questioning reveals they’re not quite there yet, and Mr. Curran guides them into beginning with the introduction booklet. And just like that, they’re off on their own, working enthusiastically to complete the challenges. 

Students, Alfie and Cruz, collaborate on the floor as the program their Dash robots.

The various robotics and engineering kits are designed to gradually build the knowledge and skills associated with physical computing, coding, robotics, and other emerging technologies for our students. As they develop their skills, students are encouraged to access more difficult kits and tools. 

We are excited to see how the new space, flooded with light and located in a corner classroom on the fourth floor facing the river, will inspire our students to do new things! 

Some of the new and existing resources available to students in the Spark Lab are: 

  • A green screen studio
  • Robots to cater to students in EC - Grade 5 (including Cubetto, a robot requiring no screen-based controls)Lego robotics carts, including every piece in the WeDo, Mindstorms Core, and Mindstorms Expansion kits.
  • A full-size robotics competition table
  • The Little Bits Pro Library (for creating inventions based on snap circuits)
  • An abundance of 'Makey Makey' kits, helping students learn the fundamentals of electrical circuitry while creating inventions that respond to physical touch.
  • Over 40 Hummingbird Robotics kits, allowing students to create and code physical computing creations that sense, think and act, harnessing the power of the Hummingbird Duo microcontroller and the world-famous BBC Micro:bit
  • Virtual and augmented reality kits, including the Merge Cube and Merge Headset

Hands-on experience helps students build a lasting understanding of how technology actually works.

A special thank you to Mr. Dave Curran, Instructional Coach for Technology in our Elementary School, for his contribution to this article.


Author: Tanya Olander
Communications Officer


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