How Star Wars Impacted Courses at GRACE

How Star Wars Impacted Courses at GRACE

This post is by Carol Gehringer, the TK-6th Grade Media Coordinator and originally was published on the 21st Century GRACE Blog on June 15, 2016.

More accurately, the title should read: HOW THE NEW STAR WARS MOVIE STARTED A CHAIN OF EVENTS LEADING TO A CHANGE IN OUR CURRICULUM.

It all started when I [Carol] saw the latest Star Wars movie over Christmas break 2015. In addition to the famous C3PO & R2D2, there was a new robot companion, Bb-8. Of course, it was an endearing droid, and a new “toy” for Christmas.

When I logged onto the Barnes and Noble website to order some books for our library. I saw this Ozobot, tagged as “one of the world’s smallest programmable robots, measuring just over 1 inch in height & diameter.” The description claimed it was a learning tool to teach children the basics of coding and programming.

That got me to thinking . . . what if we went beyond the Hour of Code?

During the 2014-2015 school year, our technology teacher introduced Hour of Code to our 3rd-5th graders. We repeated it for our 3rd-6th graders during the 2015-2016 school year, adding an unpluggable lesson to the Hour of Code lesson, during the 4th quarter. During the current school year, we plan to observe National Computer Science Week/Hour of Code in December.

Those events led me to a discussion with our principals, our technology teacher, and our 6th-grade team. Where previously we offered only a multimedia elective in 6th grade, now we are planning an introduction to computer science (focusing on coding) as the new elective — in addition to our multimedia curriculum.

This additional class will build more interest in our new computer science classes in middle & high school. Plus, we are planning a tech club next year for 5th and 6th graders. That way if a 6th grader couldn’t take the new elective, the student would still be introduced to coding and some fun tech stuff in the club.

We are especially excited that the tech club and coding elective class will be taught by women, and a number of girls are signing up for the elective!