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Bridlewood Elementary’s Coding Creations

Second-graders build technology skills through creativity.

In 2020-21, Bridlewood will become Lewisville ISD’s third STEM Academy. The LISD STEM Academy at Bridlewood is currently enrolling K-3 students for the new school year and parents must attend a parent information meeting to apply for the program. The next parent information session is Thursday, Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m. RSVP here

Cardboard boxes in the library piled with foil, string, fabrics and other various ‘maker’ supplies, were ready and waiting for nearby little hands to pick through and get creative with. The second grade classes at Bridlewood Elementary have worked hard to learn the basics of coding and were now challenged to build physical creatures to help with their new technology skills. 

Student looks through supplies to find materials

Students work together on creating creatures from craft objects

Imaginations were encouraged to run wild, as students thought through the design of their creatures — dolls, transformers, animals, robots; the possibilities were endless. The only true guideline of this task was to make sure the bottom of the creature could conduct electricity, as this would help with their coding app. 

Student uses craft materials to create creature

Student uses foil to cut and create a creature

“My idea was to get a clip and put two washers on the bottom,” second-grader Brady Bodine said. “It has a popsicle stick with a pipe cleaner around it and feathers all over it. It’s like a cyclops.” 

Another student, Alivia Robinson wasn’t sure what to call her creature, but knew exactly what she wanted to use to make it. 

“My idea was to make a creature that had washers for legs and has my favorite colors — a pink face and a purple body,” Robinson said. 

Students smile with their creations in hand

This project all started with a virtual visit from the author of children’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) book, Doll-E 1.0, by Shanda McCloskey. The book’s main character, Charlotte, is really into technology and gadgets. One day she receives a classic toy, a doll, and discovers ways to make it more modern through some creative ingenuity. Part of what Charlotte uses is a Makey Makey kit. 

Makey Makeys are invention kits, where students can easily connect objects to computers and make them work together. This gives students an opportunity to work with circuits, interface design and computing. 

Student smiles while cutting materials for their creature

After those first lessons with the Makey Makeys, students moved onto learning coding basics on

“That is more block coding, where students can get the very basic knowledge,” Library Media Specialist Teresa McMurray said. “From that, we have now gone into the Scratch program. It is a bit more complicated, where students can record their voices, like I did on the conduction check.”

Makey Makey station wires

While students were busy making their creatures, a laptop station in the middle of the library served as that conduction check. Through a Makey Makey and Scratch program by McMurray, students could reassure themselves that their creatures would conduct electricity. Upon placing an object, like foil, on top, the computer would let out an audible, “this item is conductive.” If something non-conductive, like a craft pom pom, was placed on top, the computer would stay silent. 

Student measure's object's conductivity

Sometimes, this check sent students back to the drawing board. Like in all STEM activities, students are encouraged to use the Engineering Design Process, a six-step system that helps them work through their activities — Ask: Define the problem; Imagine: Brainstorm solutions; Plan: Decide on next steps; Create: Make a solution; Improve: Collect feedback and make changes; and Share: Present solution.

“It’s all the Engineering Design Process,” McMurray said. “Making a prototype before you design your final product lets students see how it’s really going to work. They can visualize and that’s all fine and well, but when you’re creating something, you’re more invested in seeing it work.” 

Students use glue and materials to create creatures

Now that these conductive creatures are built and ready, students will move on to their next task — making them “talk” through connections with the Makey Makey and the Scratch program. Using their own voices, students will give their creatures a voice of their own to be shared at Bridlewood’s upcoming open house on March 12.

Student smiles with handmade creature

Working on a project such as this for weeks at a time allows students to truly hone their coding skills and build on each new skill learned. From words in a book, to building talking circuit creatures, Bridlewood students are getting hands-on experiences in the technological world of tomorrow. 

In 2020-21, Bridlewood will become Lewisville ISD’s third STEM Academy. The LISD STEM Academy at Bridlewood is currently enrolling K-3 students for the new school year and parents must attend a parent information meeting to apply for the program. The next parent information session is Thursday, Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m. RSVP here