(Pictured: Computer Science students at Canon-McMillan High School with their Finch Robots.)
Learning with the Finch Robots has been rewarding and fun for computer science students at Canon-McMillan High School. The Finch Robot is a programmable robot that brings computer science to life by providing students a hands-on representation of their code to make learning fun and engaging. After receiving a generous mini grant from CSforPgh, Ms. Gutosky was able to purchase Finch Robots, professional development, many fun classroom accessories, prizes, and snacks to provide to students as they collaborated to complete different activities and programming challenges with the Finch Robots. The lessons are designed to empower students to take ownership of their technical and creative skill sets, to engage them in flexible problem-solving activities that apply various computer science topics. The students get to experience a physical representation of their code, which is rewarding and engaging.
During the initial days of play with the Finch Robots, students explored the different functions and used Python code to make the robots respond to and do different things such as move, light up, respond to sensors, and make sound. The students worked collaboratively to apply prior knowledge to new skills to make programming concepts come alive. One of the coolest things the students did was a maze challenge activity that they had a lot of fun with, as shown in the video.
In the days, months, and years to come, Ms. Gutosky intends to expand upon the Finch Robot learning initiatives at Canon-McMillan High School. Through her affiliations with CSforPgh, CSinPA, and CSTA Pittsburgh, she is connected with other computer science educators so that lesson and activity ideas can be shared. A special thank you to Remake Learning and CSforPgh for their generosity and support in making this project possible.