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Computer Coding and Robotics pilot to be launched

By Ministry of Education

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(GIS) – Four secondary schools have been selected and will be outfitted with the necessary tools for a Computer Coding and Robotics Pilot Project, set for its official launching next week Wednesday, March 28, at the Grande Rivière Secondary School, Dennery, from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

The Computer Coding and Robotics pilot is a groundbreaking endeavor in Saint Lucia that is intended to derive positive behavioral change in students through their engagement in both computer coding and robotics.

Funding and technical support for this pilot programme has been made possible by USAID, through the Community, Family and Youth Resilience (CFYR) Programme, whose aim is to identify families and their youth that are at risk and to help them build resiliency. The organization, at the launch, will handover equipment for the pilot to the Beanefield Secondary School in Vieux Fort, the Bocage Secondary School in Castries, the Grande Riviere Secondary School in Dennery and the Soufriere Comprehensive Secondary School.

The Department of Education, Innovation and Gender Relations has been working very closely with Community, Family and Youth Resiliency (CFYR) project officers over the past few months to design and prepare for and implement this pilot.

So far, twelve teachers and four youth mentors have been trained to teach basic computer coding, using the Lego Mindstorms platform. The selected schools are also being equipped with the necessary hardware to facilitate teaching the newly developed coding and robotics curriculum.

“The robotics component is an essential part of this programme. The very practical nature of robots and the myriad of applications that they can serve, makes them the ideal environment to begin to learn how to code. While working with robots, students are able to see the outcome of their own code more immediately, said Curriculum Specialist for Technology Integration Germain Anthony. “Coding is problem solving. This requires critical thinking and often involves creativity. It is anticipated that this programme will evoke higher cognitive development among students.”

Part of the rationale for this pilot programme, he said, is born out of the need to modernize the school curriculum. Many students, Anthony said, are not fully engaged nor motivated by the traditional curriculum. He said, the programme aims to captivate learners by immersing them in technology, while they engage in activities that help their concept development with respect to STEM subjects.

Throughout the course of the programme, students will be monitored for any changes in their general outlook, academic performance, attendance, discipline, skill acquisition and self-efficacy among other attributes. The outcomes from this pilot will be used to inform future endeavors in the teaching of computer coding and robotics in schools. A “Hackathon” is being planned as the main culminating activity. This will feature the students’ work and a set of competitive challenges for some very generous prizes.

United States Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS H.E. Linda Taglialatela and Minister with responsibility for Education Hon. Dr. Gale Rigobert are both expected to be in attendance and to address the gathering.

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