Robots and more attract participants in Hour of Code


Checking the robots, including one that can be programmed to play a small xylophone, are Audrey Zoller of Olin and Johanna LaKose of Anamosa (left). The event was part of the Jones County Hour of Code Dec. 21 at the Citizens State Bank Youth Development Center. (Photo by Pete Temple)
By: 
Pete Temple
Express Associate Editor

     Robots, virtual roller coasters, computer programming and more were made available to Jones County students and their parents Wednesday, Dec. 21.

     It was all part of the Jones County Hour of Code, an event held in four different sessions at the Citizens State Bank Youth Development Center in Monticello.

     A total of 85 kids and parents took part in the event, which was put on by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach (ISUEO).

     “Our event created excitement and curiosity of what technology experiences can be offered by ISUEO in Jones County,” Extension director Jennifer Fischer said. “Youth were very excited to move robots across the room, to ride virtual roller coasters, and to explore computer programming through their favorite characters.”

     Four stations were set up, and students at each session rotated to each of the four throughout their one-hour time slot. One station was just for pre-K students, using programmable Bee Bots to follow a path, rolling cars to explore speed and velocity, and maneuvering remote control cars through a maze.

     A second station was for robotics, and several versions of the programmed robots Dash and Dot were sent rolling across the floor while being controlled by students with tablets.

     Another station had computers, engaging students in programming activities. The fourth station was called Unplugged Exit, as students assembled a snack following a pre-determined algorithm.

     “Parents and their children enjoyed using technology through many hands-on activities,” Fischer said.

     In addition to providing an activity for youth of Jones County, the event was also designed to promote awareness of ISUEO activities.

     The goal, Fischer said, was “to create awareness of youth programming and resources from ISUEO in Jones County, and to expand the public knowledge that ISUEO does offer programming for everyone in the community beyond agricultural interests.

     “This was our second family-friendly public event, and our goal is to continue to offer family-friendly events in 2017,” she added.

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