Sixth Grade Coders Create Digital and Physical Earth Science Models
By 4th–8th grade STEAM and Coding teacher Adam Colestock
This year for their coding project in science class, 6th graders became educational designers as they created physical and digital models of a geologic process.
First, they watched the documentary The Miracle Planet: The Heat Within and learned about the heat buried deep within Earth’s core and its profound effects on shaping the geology of our planet. From their initial viewing, they selected one topic of interest and conducted further research through a cycle of research-driven inquiry. They then used their research to write an essay arguing how the phenomenon they studied provides support for the theory of plate tectonics.
Next, they took their research and knowledge of these geologic processes and spent a few days at the TIDES Garage in the Kovler Family Library to construct physical models that demonstrated what they’d learned. Using craft materials such as cardboard, clay, piper cleaners, etc., they engaged in the computational thinking process of abstraction as they selected the essential features of the phenomenon they studied to create a model. This part of the project culminated with students sharing what they had built and learned with their classmates.
Finally, the students stepped into the digital realm as they continued to refine their understanding and craft a representation of their learning to share with a much broader audience as they created interactive projects using the programming platform Scratch. They are delighted to share what they’ve learned with the community through this gallery.