OCEAN CITY - Coding can seem high-tech, but not for the Kindergarten through third-grade students at Ocean City Primary School (OCPS), who have learned coding, among other skills, in a new class dubbed the OC Tech Lab.
The program has taken the place of computers class, and although it still teaches traditional topics such as typing, new Ocean City School District (OCSD) teacher Randall Kohr, who leads the program, said the students now are doing much more.
“Our new primary technology program introduces students to emerging technologies as early as possible to get them excited about STEM-related fields and build fundamental skills within robotics, computer programming, 3D printing, and design thinking,” said Kohr.
In the first few months of the school year, students already have been coding and learning robotics programming. Kohr ordered eight robots, funded by the Parent Teacher Association, that students will program during a challenge as part of Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 5-11, 2016). Second- and third-grade students soon will launch the rockets they are in the final stages of building using the lab’s 3D printer for NASA’s Journey to Mars Rocket Challenge.
“We are exposing our students at this age to innovative experiences to get them interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) from the start of their education,” said Kathleen Taylor, Ed.D., Superintendent of the Ocean City School District. “We want our students to have hands-on experiences and learn an engineering design process, and they love it. We also want to ensure our students are aware of college opportunities and careers in the STEM field.”
Kohr also had a hand in organizing a visit from a virtual reality bus - the zSpace bus - to OCPS Nov. 17. The company created a new interactive virtual reality computer that allows the user to pick up and manipulate virtual images as if they were real, incorporating hundreds of lessons often found in teachers’ curricula. OCPS students used stations on the bus to view the different parts of a human heart and the life stages of a butterfly, for example.
“Second- and third-graders enjoyed the zSpace bus, which visited the school last week, as it added a virtual dimension to what they already are learning in our Ocean City Primary School classrooms,” said Taylor.