in Education

Our Deconstruction Method: A New Way to Advance All Kids in Coding

With robots, coding comes alive.

You only need a few coding concepts under your belt to teach Evo and Bit how to see, play, and explore with OzoBlockly, our block-based code editor. But, for many educators and students, advanced coding looks daunting. In a recent Pew survey, over half of Americans cited difficulty as the main reason students aren’t pursuing STEM subjects like computer science. When it comes to teaching programming, you might be asking yourself how to start or where to find fun programs to get your students engaged quickly and easily.

The Ozobot Edu team understands this problem inside and outwe are teachers and former coding students ourselves. So, we’ve redesigned our coding curriculum to better fit how students of all ages actually learn and explore.

We are excited to announce Ozobot’s new Deconstruction Method for learning computer science! This method allows students (and educators) to explore and teach themselves how to use such tools as variables, functions, and Boolean operators by giving them game design problems to solve. Just like how so many leaders in the tech world learned, students are solving problems they’re interested in, which teaches them code on a deep and personal level.

Here’s how it works. The Deconstruction Series for Evo (currently) has three Games to choose from: Color Quest, Breakout (yes, like that Breakout), and a Hockey Simulator. You’ll load the pre-written program to Evo. Then, your class will play the game using Evo. As they play, they analyze the bot’s behavior and hypothesize about the program. Comparing the OzoBlockly code to their simple English analysis shows your students how writing a computer program is actually very simple. This confidence-boosting activity also subtly introduces logic which, we believe, is better taught through experience and exploration than definitions.

In the next Levels of any Game, students are introduced to important coding tools while creating game mechanics, like movement or point-collection. You won’t need to spend much time explaining coding concepts, because students have seen them in action and can use them to solve problems, like creating new ways to count points for Evo.

In the end, students use everything they’ve learned to program their own unique gameone they can proudly play and share with everyone. This is a creative and empowering learning experience, and research backs up how this method will get all of your students engaged in coding.

Our Deconstruction Method  contains problem-based learning (PBL), hands-on learning, and pair programming, all of which improve retention and engagement. “Hands-on activities,” write the educators behind nonprofit Resource Area for Teaching, “rekindle a love of learning and connect abstract concepts to the real worldwhile achieving desired educational outcomes.” On pair programming in classrooms, Singapore American School edtech coach Tara Linney says “it empowers students to communicate and collaborate and fosters critical thinking because the teacher is part of the background, a facilitator.” Magic happens when students learn in pairs, developing new perspectives, adjusted focus, and iteration mindsets.

We’ve seen that magic at work when demonstrating our Deconstruction lessons. Sporty kids build their own soccer games and artists create worlds for Evo, all without prompting. Even the adults in our company have been inspired to try new and exciting things because of their experience discovering coding with Deconstruction, like publishing their own blogs or studying coding themselves.

For us, this method is a no-brainer. Deconstruction is how the Ozobot Edu team and the engineers at our company learned to program. In fact, just about every computer engineer and software designer, from Apollo space program mastermind Margaret Hamilton to Apple’s Steve Wozniak, learned this way. When studying a new coding language, engineers go to example code to see how it works. Or, they collaborate to find creative ways to solve problems.

There are many great websites where developers share and find example code. Stack Overflow is a worldwide community of engineers asking for help with their code, and getting it! GitHub is another worldwide open community where programmers share their software code and contributions to community projects. If you’re still learning, check out w3schools to deconstruct some JavaScript today. If you want a way for your students to save and share their coding projects in a safe and fun environment, check out Glitch (not currently compatible with OzoBlockly).

If you aren’t coding savvy yourself, don’t worry. By exploring and teaching the Deconstruction Games and programs yourself, you’ll gain valuable computer science and logic skills. We make it simple for educators with an easy-to-read Q&A on each topic, so you can speak knowledgeably to your class. We pack in lots of creative time for your students, which you’ll be able to oversee and learn from. Of course, we also supply answers and examples to help you check their work.

Start deconstructing coding today to advance your and your students’ knowledge and skills! Visit our Deconstruction page, where we’ve mapped out each Game, their Levels and Missions, and learning outcomes. If you’re new, we recommend starting with our Introduction to OzoBlockly and Evo’s Color Quest. Then, do as many Games as you like! (More to come :D) We also recommend checking out the README file, which maps out how to prepare and teach the series.

Ozobot’s goal is to get kids coding, and we mean all kids. Whether or not your students are already interested in technology, our Deconstruction Method will build a deep understanding of, if not love for, computer programming. We can’t wait for you to try it!

Remember to share your accomplishments with our community using #ozobot and #deconstruction, and we’ll feature you in our feeds.

Happy Coding!
Theresa Rapior
Education Curriculum Specialist