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Sixth-Graders Blend New-School Programming with Old-School Dioramas


Sixth-grade students at Scarsdale Middle School last week acted like real engineers and computer programmers when they built complex projects with Arduinos.

In Elizabeth Gallo’s Technology Education class, the students presented projects they created that merged sophisticated computer programming with old-school dioramas to tell scientific stories on topics ranging from how elephants adapt to their surroundings, to how the sun rotates through space.

The students were challenged to design a scientific scene that interacted with an Arduino board. Students used multiple sensors as inputs and servo motors, and LED lights as outputs. The outputs perform tasks based on the information received from the input.

In this class, one group used Arduino to direct a tiny penguin to slide down some “ice” to join the rest of his family waiting below. Another group, displaying how the food chain works, was able to move a bunny closer to a snake. Watch out!

While presenting their projects to the rest of the class, the students explained the goal of their projects and identified what character traits their group exhibited while working together – curiosity, grit, optimism, purpose, self-control, and others. Each group used the design process to work through this design challenge and submitted a completed portfolio about the project to Ms. Gallo.