The life science module incorporates computer science through the use of technology and computational thinking skills to expand the learning possibilities in the ecology unit. Early in the unit, students are introduced to the Edison robots, devices that are both programmable and educational. Students get a feel for how they work before tackling the more challenging project that follows. The students in one classroom were very engaged with the robots, especially when they got to battle them! After familiarizing themselves with how to use the bots, and the many features they have, the students use the robots as tools to simulate a predator/prey relationship between a wolf and moose. This is a great project for the students to get creative as they draw maps of the route they would like their wolf to follow. The wolf, which is represented by the Edison bot, must steer clear of obstacles, take a drink from a lake, and finally reach its final goal of the moose. After this project, the students say goodbye to the robots for now, and hello to Scratch!

Scratch is a free online program that allows creativity to blossom while learning to code, and it has a similar interface to the program the students use to program the Edison robots. While learning about transects, the students use a pre-made transect simulation created with Scratch to learn how to estimate populations. Next, the students take a trip outside to measure and collect data from their very own transects! The students in one classroom loved adventuring outside and were intent on collecting their data efficiently. Students are even able to measure light intensity and temperature using a device called a data logger from HOBOware. In the classroom, they are able to manipulate the data they collect with an application called CODAP, a free online data analysis tool. With this application they learn about creating, reading, and interpreting graphs.

On September 28th, a meeting was held at the RiSE Center, bringing teachers from far and wide to discuss the integration of computer science into their classrooms. Two teachers had already begun their adventure into STEM+C, and were generous enough to share their experiences, tips, and tricks, with the rest of the group.

Stay tuned for exclusive details on how the Force and Motion unit is going, as this is the next unit we will be observing!