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North Bay students learn STEM though coding Lego robots

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North Bay Catholic school students are learning about coding and robotics while using Lego. It's part of an innovation project that includes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Students are split into teams to create a project about a real-world crisis and how they would solve it while also building and coding a mini Lego robot to solve the challenging missions.

"What we've been doing is building custom parts for the robot,” explained Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Elementary School student Cooper Morrow.“We built a bin and sort of ‘T’ to drop stuff."

Using computers, the Lego robots are programmed by the students to perform specific tasks, like knock into things, carry objects and push them. If a task is complete, that robot's team scores points.

"The whole class can participate rather it being an extra after school or weekend program," explained Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic District School Board Technology Enabled Learning Facilitator Peter Anello.

These projects started at the beginning of the school year. New this year to the curriculum, the ‘First Lego League Class’ pack program allows participating teachers to partner with First Robotics Canada and lead a 12-week program design course.

“I find it really interesting and fun to do. It's cool how you can code something like that to do whatever," said Morrow.

The project's theme is ‘Superpowered’ and focuses on exploring energy and how it's stored and delivered. Isabella Castiglione and her team focused on trying to find ways to use solar panels at night.

"They store the energy from the sunlight but it just doesn't work throughout the whole night,” explained the Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Elementary School student. “If we have an outlet they can plug into, then they can work in the night."

This robotics competition is taking place in four different schools and eight classrooms. It started this week and runs until next Wednesday. The team with the highest amount of points from their project and competition from each classroom will go to the regional competition in December. 

"It's really a nice resource for teachers to be able to open up a program, make some tweaks and deliver it,” said Anello. “We're hoping to keep this program running for years to come."

The goal of this course is to keep students engaged in science and math in a way that's engaging and fun.

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