Students from Oberlin put their coding and math skills on display March 8 in the Educational Service Center of Lorain County’s annual STEAM competition.
More than 300 fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders from nine school districts took part in 24 Challenge events and navigated Sphero robots through geometric golf courses drawn up across the lobby floor of Lorain County Community College’s Spitzer Conferencing Center.
STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and design, and math.
Fifth-graders from Oberlin’s Prospect Elementary School took home first place in the Sphero portion of the event.
First shown to consumers in 2011, Sphero has become a mainstay in computer science and engineering classrooms throughout the country. It’s controlled through a phone application that simplifies code for new programmers, allowing them to slide tabs around their screens that prioritize tasks and how their the little ‘bot will react to those tasks.
“Last year when we came to the competition was my first time working with Sphero or coding,” said Prospect fifth-grader Maia Tritt. “We didn’t really understand how to do it last year, but today we were a lot faster. We all just understand the teamwork of it and everything a lot better now. Coding seems very complicated at first but if you keep going it becomes a lot simpler.”
Students in 20 countries have played the 24 Challenge since it was introduced in 1988. Participants are tasked with using four numbers on a card, which they can add, subtract, multiply, or divide, to eventually amount to 24.
ESC gifted supervisor Mark Millar said while the event is technically a competition, the ultimate goal is to help kids improve their base understanding of mathematics.
“This is really getting them in to coding and 21st century learning,” he said. “The teachers have embraced it, coming in before and after school as well as working with kids on their own during lunchtime. Kids latch on to that. That leads to engineering careers or any number of job possibilities.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.