Learning to Program
Left to right: students Ivana Oredina, Taylor Boyd, Kyla Bell, Zuri Moon and Alex Morgan, instructor Arunima Singh
The Coppell Rotary Club sponsored a robotics camp at Riverchase Elementary for 4th and 5th grade girls June 12-15th. Graduate students from University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), Sairam Ramalingam and Arunima Singh, taught the hands-on, interactive program.
The girls learned motion and logic concepts, utilizing computer software to create commands for robotic “cars.” When their programs were complete, the cars would move, turn, draw and write with an embedded pen, avoid obstacles, respond to changes in light and follow a defined line.
Dr. Janell Straach, a professor of Computer Science at UTD, is a member of the Coppell Rotary Club. She developed the camp curriculum in collaboration with the National Center for Women in IT (www.ncwit.org). This camp is one of several initiatives she leads across DFW to get more girls involved in computing careers. “I wanted to emphasize how robots can be utilized to produce positive and creative outcomes. This is a departure from many other camps which focus on creating robots to act in more aggressive ways such as knocking over items and battling each other,” said Dr. Straach.
Pam Henderson, principal at Riverchase Elementary said, “I was impressed by the girls’ engagement and how quickly they grasped the concepts. It was amazing to watch them become more confident in their ability to use math and coding skills to program a robot and solve complex problems. Because of this opportunity provided by the Coppell Rotary and UTD, our girls now know they can code and think about future careers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.”
“At the end of the camp, the girls asked for more opportunities for similar programs,” said Dr. Straach. “The Coppell Rotary Club is evaluating the possibility of an after-school program at Riverchase in the fall,” she added.