Pictured, Mark Roth from Northwestern high school, second from left, instructs SPCS students Barry Haynes, Will Ruthig, Zach Powell and Aaron Waugh in programming their EV3 LEGO Mindstorms robot.
By Dan Rankin
Playing with LEGO isn’t what it used to be.
On the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 14, students at South Perth Centennial School received a lesson in computer programming using EV3 LEGO Mindstorms robots from Mark Roth and co-op student Mackenzie Chute from Stratford’s Northwestern high school.
From left, SPCS students Thomas Kiestra, Graham Thomson, Mallory Ulch and Clara Sangster observe as their EV3 LEGO Mindstorms robot rolls out, following the commands they had just programmed it to follow.
Chute, 16, who led the session Thursday, was given his co-op placement with Stratford’s D&D Automation and has been touring area schools giving students a crash course in robotics using the robotics kits.
The sophisticated robots can be programmed with computer software on an ordinary laptop and then set free to follow prescribed tasks using their colour, touch and depth sensors. Divided into groups of four or five, the SPCS students had to program their bots to drive across a coloured floor mat, rolling passed blue, yellow and green lines, but pausing on red ones. When the robot didn’t do exactly as they’d planned, it was back to the drawing board, or, in this case, laptop, to find and correct the mistake in their programming sequence.
Roth said the robots and software help teach kids entry level skills into the ever-growing field of programming. The kits are not intimidating for kids and, selling for around $400, are not incredibly expensive, he said. Many schools (including South Perth) have bought several of the kits and started new Programming Clubs. St. Marys DCVI co-op student Rebecca Partridge and technical resource assistant Mrs. Rader run South Perth Centennial’s Programming Club, regularly leading about 25 students in the process of online coding. For photos, please visit our Facebook Page.