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November 20, 2017 05:15 PM

Students Learn Coding, Life Lessons from Programming Robots

Robots are taking over John Harris Elementary, but don't worry, the students are in control. Gifted-education students are programming land rovers to get through an obstacle course of sorts. The project is helping them crack the code to technology and a few life lessons. 

The route is not easy. 

"You go forward about three feet and then you do a 360 and then you go forward four feet," Elijah Sumey said. 

Nine-year-old Elijah is up for the challenge to put a Recon Land Rover on the right path. 

"If I want it to drive forward three feet, I have to click this then I can go down to feet and inches," Elijah said. 

A few buttons later and the John Harris fourth grader is in business. Thanks to his programming, his robot can follow a path from beginning to end. His teacher, Jeff Dixen, used masking tape and the floor of his classroom to make a course for the robots. The process is the final part of a project that is teaching gifted-ed students like Elijah how to code.

"Coding just in itself is an important skill for kids to know just looking at how the world's going," Dixen said.

The kids are also learning math, science and critical thinking skills. That is not all. 

"The second time I did it, it like flew off the ramp because I went a little too short on that," Elijah said. 

Though Elijah got it to work in the end, Dixen says failing is just as important as succeeding.

"If everyone succeeds the first time, they don't learn how to persevere and overcome sometimes. Things aren't always easy no matter what you're doing or who you are," Dixen said. 

Dixen also learned something from this experience: kids aren't as easy to program as robots.

Elijah: I think he was a great guy, according to what he wants me to say.
Dixen: Love this guy.
Brady Mallory: You're pretty honest, aren't you?
Elijah: Mmmhm. 

The road to adulthood isn't easy, but this project is getting Elijah ready for the challenge. No matter where he goes, honesty, precision and hard work will put him on a good path. 



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  • Elementary
  • Education
  • Sioux Falls, SD
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