Day of Code at the Washington School


Andrew Williams, Author

On Friday, December 7th, MASH and STEAM peer leaders split up into groups and visited the Washington School to teach the fifth graders about the importance of code. Each group introduced themselves and then did an icebreaker activity to get to know the younger students and make them feel more comfortable. Once the icebreaker was complete, the peer leaders explained the next task the students would have to try to complete.

In total, there were six activities that the students had to complete: Google Interland digital citizenship, coding unplugged, programming robots to move (using ipads), using, spritebox, and constructing a freestanding tower using one plastic cup, 20 plastic straws, and one meter of tape. After polling the fifth graders, I found out that the most liked activity was coding unplugged, slightly ahead of Google Interland digital citizenship.

When asked about the coding unplugged activity, fifth grade student’s favorite and most unexpected part was, “learning to code without a computer.” For this activity, the students were tasked with moving a lego figure through a maze, by using slips of paper with lines of code on them, such as “forward one” or “left turn.” A peer leader named Cameroon  stated that this activity “greatly enhanced their coding and communication skills, and it was a good challenge for them.” In addition, he also stated that “a lot of the teams did well,  and everyone understood what they were doing.” According to other peer leaders, the students were “more organized and better prepared” as stated by Jesse A. and “well behaved” as stated by Kayla W. After questioning fifth grade teacher Mrs. Roberts, the only thing she would change would be to give the students “more time, I hate to limit all the activities when there’s so much to do.”

The principal of the Washington School, Mr. Peter Mercurio, thought this trip was a great experience for the students and hopes that it “motivated them to begin to code, get into robotics, and continue to work with technology.”