7th Graders Program Robots to Draw the Westridge “W” and Dance to Beyonce, Learn to Fail Up

You’ve heard the saying “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” 7th Graders in Mrs. Sanchez-Langley’s computer science class learned just that during their final robotics challenge when they were tasked with programming several robots to perform a cooperative activity. Early on, students were concerned about grades when their robots were not quite doing what they were meant to do. They leaned towards simplifying the collective task as a result. Assured that their grade was not based on how perfectly the Westridge logo was drawn by the robots, or how synchronized they “danced” to Beyoncé’s Halo, the girls persevered but were still a ball of nerves every time they tested their programing on the robots.

Mrs. Sanchez-Langley pointed out the importance of creating a safe space for the students to fail. “The fear of failure can be paralyzing for many people. Removing that fear creates a safe place to take risks, and to learn from our failures. The assignment was never about programming a robot to perform a task perfectly, it was about problem solving, collaboration, and empowering our students to take on new challenges”.

For the record, the “W” logo was not terribly recognizable, only four of the five dancers made it to the end of Halo, one of the synchronized robot “swimmers” decided to swim in place halfway through the routine, and the robot relay obstacle course almost worked, had the first “contestant” not stopped just a little too far to the left during the first leg. So even though the 7th graders didn’t necessarily make it all the way to their final destination, they were deeply engaged in their learning and now have the keys and a road map to get there. Click here to view more photos.

Westridge School, 324 Madeline Drive, Pasadena, (626) 799-1053 ext. 200 or visit www.westridge.org.



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