Coding and Robotics

Immersive coding, robotics instruction coming for Clear Creek elementaries

Imagine your first-grader constructing a robot in a science class to represent animals’ habitat adaptations. Or maybe a third-grade student using Minecraft to build a virtual world based on a book that was read in class.

This is the type of learning Clear Creek ISD is working to implement in its elementary schools as part of its upcoming Robotics, Coding, and Computational Thinking (RCC) instructional program.

Though the RCC program will officially launch at Bauerschlag, League City and Ward elementary schools during the 2022-2023 school year, those campuses will have a pre-launch this year to give time for teachers to develop resources needed to fully apply the program, Superintendent Eric Williams said.

This school year, “teachers will be learning about the new tools and how to implement them and creating resources that other teachers can use and share,” he said.

The district’s first day of class is Aug. 16 for children in grades prekindergarten, kindergarten, 6 and 9. Other grades start school on Aug. 17.

Even though the coming year is not a full implementation for RCC, some students at those schools will be able to participate in three planned community exhibitions of their work.

“There will be students who have these learning experiences this year,” Williams said.

Williams said the RCC program will eventually be used in all 27 Clear Creek ISD elementary schools. The district’s education foundation recently committed $73,000 for the program to get started and has pledged an additional $148,000 for full implementation.

District trustees last spring unanimously approved creation of the program, which will use the Scratch block-based coding program, the VEX Robotics program and MinecraftEDU.

Program seen as way for kids to master core content

Williams touted the possibilities the immersive instruction program will bring to the district, which he said is already strong in robotics and science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum.

“I’m very excited for our students,” Williams said. “This (promotes) deeper, more complex thinking and complex problem solving; so we want to integrate this curriculum starting with kindergarten.”

The idea is to integrate RCC principles into core subjects such as reading, social studies, science and math by implementing instruction in coding, robotics and computational thinking.

“With RCC, kids don’t just engage in rote learning, they will learn to apply the content into new situations, including problem-solving, because this is about (generating) much greater mastery in RCC thinking and it also boosts mastery of core content,” Williams said.

The superintendent stressed RCC will be used for all learners, including those in bilingual and special-education programs.

Robotics center near completion

CCISD students are not novices when it comes to robotics. In fact, the district can boast of globally recognized and award-winning teams at both the secondary and elementary levels. The district is close to finishing a renovation of its Learner Support Center, at 2903 Falcon Pass, to support robotics competitions.