Sonoma County Office of Education

Technology for Learners

Coding & Robotics

Coding and robotics can provide exciting hands-on learning opportunities for students that extend into many content areas and are motivating to students. This page offers links and resources to possibilities.

Coding

What is coding? Coding is what makes it possible for us to create computer software, apps, and websites. Code is all around us. Your web browser, your computer operating system, the apps on your phone, scanners in the supermarket, automobile systems — they all use computer code. Why is coding important to learn?

  1. It encourages curiosity and reflection about how electronic devices work.
  2. It can be a springboard for vocational exploration and inquiry.
  3. It’s a great way to support some key mathematical practices from the Common Core State Standards—reasoning, attention to detail, and perseverance.
  4. Computer science is driving job growth and innovation in our economy and society. More than half of projected jobs in STEM fields are in computing occupations.

There are hundreds of different coding languages, including Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML), Javascript, Python, PHP, Ruby, LabVIEW, and Scratch. What makes them all similar is that they all have an underlying syntax and logic that computer processors follow to manage input and output functions — for example, when you press a button (input), a webpage comes up on a screen (output).

SCOE offers support for educators learning about coding through resource pages, classes, and student events. The following websites are offered as a starting point.

  • Blockly
    Blockly is a web-based, graphical programming editor. Users can drag blocks together to build code with very little typing required.
  • Code.org
    This Web 2.0 resource is an excellent place to begin initiating coding activities in schools and homes. The site is loaded with activities and inspirational videos. Code.org is the sponsoring organization for the “Hour of Code” worldwide event.
  • Code Academy
    Code Academy is an interactive free Web 2.0 resource that supports learning in a variety of programming languages.
  • Code Studio
    Engineers from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter helped create the tutorials on this site, which is designed for K-12 students learning coding concepts.
  • Daisy the Dinosaur
    Daisy the Dinosaur is an iPad app that provides an introduction to programming that can be used with children in primary grades.
  • Hopscotch
    This is a useful app that helps upper elementary and middle school students understand coding concepts using a drawing program and fun characters.
  • Lightbot
    This is an engaging game that advances learning about coding logic. It is available as an iPad and Android App.

  • Made with Code
    Made with Code is a new Google projects that is designed to get more girls interested in coding.
  • RoboLab
    This is a visual programming language built by the Tufts University for programming LEGO RCX and NXT robots. Mac and Windows versions are available.
  • Scratch
    Scratch is a programming language created at MIT that supports the creation of interactive art, stories, simulations, and games.

Robotics

Students can see coding ideas come to life through robots. Some possibilities for developing coding skills with robots can be found with the following products.

  • Bee-Bot
    Bee-Bot is a robot designed for use by young children. Directional keys are used to enter up to 40 commands which send Bee-Bot forward, back, left, and right. This colorful and easy-to-operate robot can be great for teaching sequencing, estimation, problem-solving, and beginning coding skills. Bee-Bot tablet apps are also available to reinforce and practice programming skills.
  • Lego Mindstorm EV3
    The EV3 is Lego's latest Mindstorms set. It contains an updated programmable brick known as the EV3, a new graphic oriented programming environment, motors, sensors, and hundreds of Lego building parts.
  • Wonder Workshop's Dash Robot
    Wonder Workshop's Dash robot has great capabilities for students in grades 3-8. Comprehensive lesson plans aligned to Common Core and NGSS standards are available. Wonder Workshop provides a number of learning apps for Android & iOS operating systems to support student work.
  • Sphero
    Bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a baseball, Sphero is a programmable ‘ball.’ It can be controlled through a number of different tablet apps including one that allows for programming.

Recent Blog Posts About Coding & Robotics

High School Raspberry Pi Coding Contest
Robotics at Maria Carrillo High- Student Voice in Action
Prepare for the 2015 Hour of Code
Prestwood Teacher Codes with Kindergartners
Robotics Programs at Cotati-Rohnert Park’s Technology High
Creating a New Generation of Innovators: FIRST Robotics Program
Future Watch: Consumer Robots

Sonoma County Robotics Challenge

The Sonoma County Office of Education sponsors an annual robotics challenge competition for grade 4-8 students every spring. More information on this event is offered on the Robotics Challenge page.


Contact

  • Matt O'Donnell, Technology Innovation Specialist
    (707) 524-8419,
  • Rick Phelan, Director, Technology for Learners
    (707) 524-2847,