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Robotics: The Sum of Coding and Design

By James Gapp, Director of Technology

Harbor Day’s technology and design classes provide an enriching project-based curriculum that includes design building and coding. These pathways come together in the robotics program, where lessons help students build their creative problem-solving skills.

Beginning in kindergarten, students in Mr. Pikula’s technology class are introduced to coding through platforms such as Kodable, Code Combat, and Scratch. These platforms are fairly simple to learn but also provide advanced capabilities for interested students. 

Alongside coding, the curriculum for grades K-8 includes a design component, starting with Dr. Rowe’s class in kindergarten. These courses use a project-based approach, where students design, build, and iterate. This hands-on experience allows for students to develop fine motor skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Projects in this strand range from simple tasks like building cardboard ramps to more creative endeavors such as designing packaging, crafting cardboard creatures, and constructing basic furniture like chairs and stepstools. 

The two worlds of coding and design come together throughout the grades in the robotics sections of the courses. Here, students use their building skills to build the robots and their programming skills to program the robots. Some examples of this include: 

Lego Wedo - A fundamental introduction to robotics using motorized LEGO models and simple programming. Students build and program LEGO animals, cranes, and other exciting creations. Here they learn through hands-on experiences, fostering their curiosity and improving their problem-solving abilities.

Lego Mindstorms - A more advanced LEGO platform, it offers a deeper exploration into complex building and sophisticated programming tasks. Students build and program robots that follow lines, race each other, battle, and perform other more complex tasks. The students use the basic frame of the LEGO EV3 along with their creativity to make a unique robot of their own design.

Bird Brain Robotics - Robots built here appear visually to be the simplest, but we find that the complexity lies in the creativity and engineering behind each project. Students use their imagination along with cardboard, glue, tape, servos, LED lights, distance sensors, sound sensors, and block programming to build all kinds of wonderful creations. We have seen moving art pieces, animated cardboard animals, robotic race cars, and interactive pinball machines, each reflecting the unique imagination of its creator. The iterative process is key; students continually refine and improve their designs, learning the value of persistence and innovation.

The core objective of this program is to teach students how to devise creative solutions to unforeseen challenges. We encourage them to conceive imaginative ideas and have the skills and determination to turn these concepts into tangible, functional creations.

Harbor Day School

3443 Pacific View Drive
Corona del Mar, CA 92625 Phone<title><script type="mce-text/javascript"> (function(a,e,c,f,g,h,b,d){var k={ak:"984895077",cl:"EfBCCP-Fv3UQ5ZzR1QM"};a[c]=a[c]||function(){(a[c].q=a[c].q||[]).push(arguments)};a[g]||(a[g]=k.ak);b=e.createElement(h);b.async=1;b.src="//www.gstatic.com/wcm/loader.js";d=e.getElementsByTagName(h)[0];d.parentNode.insertBefore(b,d);a[f]=function(b,d,e){a[c](2,b,k,d,null,new Date,e)};a[f]()})(window,document,"_googWcmImpl","_googWcmGet","_googWcmAk","script"); </script><head><body>1-949-640-1410<html></html></body></head><br><br><br>
Harbor Day School is a co-educational private independent K-8 school established in 1952.