Grade 8 students learn to code robotics
Robotics came to La Verendrye School again, but this time with the older students. Grade 8 Teacher Shelby Kopytko explains the First People's Development Group came in and taught Grade 8 students how to code robotics. He notes they worked with an old Lego kit called Lego Mindstorms. "They come with these computers and the idea was to construct these robots that would be able to move and do different functions with the goal, eventually, of getting them to do a sumo wrestle," says Kopytko. "In order to do that, they also taught them some really basic levels of coding, to get them to go forward, spin around, and how to detect colours." He says the sumo ring on the ground would be detected as white, and cause the robot to stop, spin around, and find an opponent. Kopytko notes it involves quite a level of complexity, and it's built up in a nice way. He says it was a big hit, overall. "You're going to get a lot of different kind of kids who have different interests," continues Kopytko. "But the idea of taking some time off to do something different is always intriguing at first. A lot of them really found this niche right away, especially working with your hands. That's something that a lot of kids really love, a lot of people really love, and we don't always get that a lot." He adds the students who didn't like it so much, still got something out of it, and kept them occupied and stimulated at the same time. "We got two weeks of it," notes Kopytko. "We were able to play around with the schedule a bit. We found that sometimes, it was very intensive, so some days were full days. When they'd come here at 9:00 a.m., they'd go all the way to 3:30, taking time out for breaks and for lunch and for phys-ed classes. Some days, we'd get half-days. So, it was two weeks of either full days or half days and straight pedal-to-the-metal of figuring out how to code, and how to do some fun robotics." Kopytko says the kids don't often explain how they enjoy an activity, but there was plenty of joy and laughter. He adds Grade 6 was involved with the activity in their last school year, and they felt to bump up the age level somewhat for this round, noting the older students might appreciate it more. "It's kind of nice," says Kopytko. "The middle-years end seems to work really well with this kind of thing. It was just a really good experience for a lot of students who may not have had an interest in that. Now they know, maybe that's a field they'd like to pursue or enjoy even for just a fun break from the normal."