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'Hour of Code' at Ecker Hill Middle School

“What is the difference between a computer and a robot?” Computer Science Integration
Coach Summer Marshall asks Teacher Mandy Pomeroy’s 6th grade class at EHMS.
Sparking curiosity and some clever answers, the class discussed how computers can be
programmed to perform specific tasks, but a robot has the added capability to sense and
react to its environment. This simple insight kicked o! an hour-long, hands-on session
where 6th graders created robots with the ability to do just that: sense, think, and act.
“This thing is an actual block of wood,” was one student’s thought. Mrs. Marshall's
response, “But, is it a robot? We’ll find out.”

Working in pairs, students were quick to grasp basic design, coding, and building
concepts. They connected the components of the provided kit, added and changed code
on their computers to produce di!erent results, and incorporated a sensor element to
make the robot think. The result – the wood block did in fact turn into a robot that could
mechanically wave back and forth, responding only when it sensed darkness in its

Throughout the 'Hour of Code', all 6th graders experience programming the block robots,
and will have the background needed to apply their learning to other projects. “The
Hummingbird Program is a flexible way to bring Computer Science to any subject. We are
doing the Hour of Code in English classes this year,” Marshall said. “Students aren’t
confined to a specific size and shape of robot, and can creatively choose how to use it."
All PCSD students receive Coding and Computer Science instruction starting in
Kindergarten, thanks to PCEF donors. As students choose di!erent classes once they get
to Ecker Hill, the Hour of Code is a way to get hands-on programming to every student.
PCEF funded the Hummingbird Robotic kits for this project, supporting the Real World
Learning Signature Initiative, all thanks to generous donors.

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