A Coding Exploration at Wantagh Elementary

Students at Wantagh Elementary School kicked off the new year by gaining some background knowledge about the devices they use every day. Throughout January, children in kindergarten through fifth grade are working on computer programming activities during their STEAM classes. 


“Underneath that screen is all this code that makes it work,” teacher Kaitlin Humphrey told her students, as they looked around the classroom to identify devices that rely on coding to work, from the Chromebooks to the electronic display board to the electric pencil sharpener. 


On their devices, students put together blocks of code to program actions in different puzzles and games. Ms. Humphrey said activities available through the Code.org and Kodable websites range from simple to complex, so students can do activities based on their comfort level with coding. 


Her younger students are doing drag-and-drop coding, in which they can move blocks of code into the workspace, which must be sequenced correctly. By fifth grade, they are beginning to write some basic code.


Students are also experiencing coding through robotics. Ms. Humphrey has several different robots for them to use. Dash robots can be programmed with an iPad, Ozobots follow lines and perform different actions based on a color sequence and Cubelets are magnetic blocks that must include at least a battery, an input cube and an output cube to function.


A new robot that Ms. Humphrey introduced were BluBots. Students could program the arrow keys on top to get the robot to move through a grid from a start point to the finish marker.  


Ms. Humphrey said that the coding unit fosters critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. It also gives them an early introduction to careers in the ever-growing STEM field.


“These are the 21st century skills that students need to learn,” she said. “It’s the world that they live in. Coding is all around them and they don’t even notice it.”