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Robotics and fun at the Maker Space’s CoderDojo

The Maker Space at the Johnson Middle School in Walpole was busy hosting one of its CoderDojo events on Saturday, November 2. CoderDojo Walpole is a volunteer organization focused on teaching kids how to code in a fun, free, informal environment.

The theme of the event was “Fun with Spheros.” Dojo attendees, who are 4th-6th graders, were provided with various challenges to complete using app-enabled robots called Sphero Bolts. Students used their coding skills to program the robots over the course of the two hour Dojo, and had a ball doing it. This program was supported in part by a grant from the Walpole Cultural Council, a local agency, which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

JMS teachers Anne Marie Wyman and BJ Burke began hosting CoderDojo events in the middle school Maker Space last winter, with the hopes of sharing their passion for coding with students. They believe strongly that the ability to program will be increasingly important to students in the 21st century, so they volunteer their time to introduce coding through fun interactive activities in the CoderDojo. In past Dojos, the students used Scratch, a block programming language developed at MIT, to program video games and animations.

A Sphero Bolt Power Pack, which is a set of 15 Sphero robots in a charging case, was acquired by Anne Marie Wyman and BJ Burke with a grant from the Walpole Cultural Council. The goal was to expand the CoderDojo by adding more “physical computing” using the robots so that students can see their coding come to life.

“We had so much fun working with the Spheros at the Dojo,” said JMS 6th graders Tanay Singh and Mayank Shah. “They are really cool! We loved the coding challenges - some were hard and you had to keep working at them to get it right - but that’s what made it so fun.”

Visit the CoderDojo Walpole site at http://bit.ly/2NkCgqr for information about upcoming Dojo events.

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