Coding. Robotics. Legos.

Academically/Intellectually Gifted students in Polk County were given the opportunity this summer to take part in a week-long Lego Engineering and Robotics class funded by the Polk County Community Foundation.

Students were given coding missions to creatively design Lego builds that showed movement and represented their interests. One mission was to design parade floats that moved at different speeds, played different types of music and recordings of crowds cheering. Students had to design their builds so that their platforms could withstand the load of the float and be able to move across the floor while entertaining a crowd.

A Lego parade was presented to fellow students in the PEAK Summer program. This experience gave students the opportunity to creatively design unique Lego builds while using problem solving skills to fit parameters that were given as part of the mission.

“Students need to be given opportunities that push them to think outside the box,” said J.J. Waddell, who taught the week-long class. “Each student experienced times when what they had originally planned to build did not work.

“Frustration was felt by every student at some point, but they were encouraged to persevere and usually their final build was better than their initial design. So much can be learned from failing, especially from students where learning may come easier than others.”

Students also coded Cozmo Robots to travel through mazes using directional codes and codes that gave the robot personality. Students designed codes that caused the robot to dance, sing, and repeat funny phrases while directing it to make directional turns and travel certain distances at different speeds. Students also designed mazes for other students to master.

Computer codes are in all electronic equipment used everyday. These students got to experience how coding is designed and the purpose it serves in our everyday lives.

In a world where technology changes daily and information can easily be accessed, these students experienced how to adapt to their situation and use problem solving skills to effectively change outcomes.