This year we again did a physical computing activity for our lower school students to help them learn about coding. They were also given the chance to do the Moana-themed Hour of Code activity.
We made a 12 x 12 grid (each square 3x3 feet) on the lawn outside our computer lab. We put cones in some of the grids...some with pictures of honu (turtles) others with the dreaded Kakamora (coconut pirates from the movie). Students could not go into these squares. We also made instructional signs and placed them face-down in a few of the squares. These signs said things like, "Move forward one space.", "Start Over.", "Do 2 jumping jacks."
Students were paired up, one taking the role of the robot and the other, the programmer. The robot stood on a spot at the side of the grid and it was their goal to reach an "island" on the other side...the programers job was to give the robot directions to get across the grid without going into a square with a cone or a square with another robot (if they did, they had to start over). If they stepped in a square with a sign, the programer had to read it and tell the robot what to do. Robots can't talk and programers can't touch robots...they have to walk along side the robots, give them the "code". To know which island to direct their robot to, programmers picked a card, numbered between 1-6.
Once the pair completed the maze, the robot picked a coin our of the island bucket. Then the students returned to their starting side, where they switched job...the new programer had to direct the new robot to a different island for that robot to win his coin. For the older students (grade 4-6) we blindfolded the robots.
After everyone had gone and gotten a coin, we sat down and talked about the experience, about coding terminology, and how/why coding is important. This was done either during the classes computer class, recess or another time of the classroom teachers choice.