Grade 6 students are fusing together computer science and visual arts in an interdisciplinary robotics project. Tasked with making robotic representations of plants and animals that they have learned about in science class, the Class of 2025 is working with papier-mâché, balloons, paints, and a variety of media in the art studio to bring their robots to physical form.
After creating their models, girls are using Scratch, an online programming language, to code their plants and animals reactions and movements with lights and motors. Students are also employing an iterative design process to ensure their artistic choices seamlessly blend into their robots and cover mechanical parts, wires, and switches. From a lynx that turns its ears to hear a noise to a venus fly trap that snaps closed when a bug lands in its mouth, students are utilizing light sensors, temperature sensors, and distance sensors to ensure their robots take in information about the world around them and react accordingly.
This hands-on project illustrates the connection between design and computing and allows students to envision themselves in future careers that are both creative and analytical. By bringing together these two typically disparate subjects, Ellis Computer Science Teacher Michele Lombardi and Visual Arts Department Chair Linda Tonetti Dugan are encouraging innovative problem-solving and design thinking as students imagine, invent, and program their work.