Happy Pi Day!

By Georgia Gallant - Volunteer

This winter the Mariposa girls enjoyed an exciting assortment of courses including Mariposa’s first robotics classes! Technology has become the most powerful tool of this generation, which is why we think that having the girls learn the basics of programming will give them the tools to understand more about our current and future world. Through the robotics course we are introducing the girls to a new way of thinking and solving problems creatively.  

The older girls started off with learning the basics of coding through ScratchJr, an iPad application that teaches kids to code through a visual programming language. The girls all completed a set of challenges to test their coding skills. After weeks of working through the challenges they created their own video games using their imaginations and the skills they had acquired through the ScratchJr challenges. They then moved on to using the JavaScript Blocks Editor, software which they later used to program the micro:bot robots, to get a basic understanding of the interface. The software was all in English which added an extra challenge, but the girls powered through! After learning JavaScript, they assembled their own robots using micro:bot kits. These kits are designed to teach kids in developing countries the basics of coding, electronics, and robotics. The girls then constructed their cardboard box kits in unique ways, converting them into unicorns, ambulances, and more. Finally, using the JavaScript Blocks Editor, they put their skills to use and coded their robots to move!

The younger girls spent the winter semester in a newly offered Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) class. In this class, the girls used similar creative problem solving skills as the older girls did in their robotics class. However, the younger girls started by learning about basic engineering topics like: simple machines, states of matter, the five senses, and chemical reactions. The course ended with a short introduction to ScratchJr. Given that the robotics course was such a hit with the older girls, the robotics program will be expanded and offered to the younger Mariposas in the coming semester! The younger girls will go into the robotics course next semester prepared with an understanding of basic STEAM concepts, and an enthusiasm for the sciences.

For the older girls who want to continue their robotics journey, they will have the opportunity to do so as part of a weekly robotics workshop on Saturdays. In this Saturday club, the girls will have one-on-one time with an instructor who will guide them through the process of enhancing their micro:bot and its code. The girls will brainstorm, design, and code what they want their robots to do. Some girls may choose to make “roomba” robots that can clean rooms, while others make robots that can navigate a maze. No matter what robot the girls ultimately present, it will be one that they have designed, built, and coded themselves. They will finish the semester with a final robotics presentation at our Earth Day celebration!

Thank you for all your support. It was crucial in making this robotics program possible. We want to ensure that robotics classes will continue to be offered in years to come, so that our Mariposas can grow as engineers, scientists, designers, coders, and roboticists!

Aislinn Doyle