Collegiate Middle Schoolers Explore Coding and Programming

Through various projects, Collegiate Middle School students are exposed to different types of coding and their purposes. One example is the Arduino LED Light Matrices project.
The project is first introduced to 5th Grade students and is expanded in 6th Grade with higher-level problem-solving skills. Students are given base code that they "hack" to make more robust and their own. They program LED light matrices attached to Arduino circuit boards to light up. One code allows students to program scrolling messages, while another lets students create designs and animations by programming each individual LED light the way they choose.

“The overall learning revolves around the premise that the more students know about how to communicate with technology, the more control and influence they have over it,” said Middle School technology teacher Dan Bell.

Using these LED light matrices as a platform for coding instruction reaches well beyond coding and programming. The project opens the door to areas such as engineering and science. Students also refine "soft skills" such as troubleshooting, problem-solving and resilience, Mr. Bell says.

“From coding the lights to uploading the code to the boards, this is a multistep process where any number of things can have unexpected outcomes,” he said. “This often requires students to retrace their steps and overcome challenges to get things working the way they expect it to.”