In collaboration with Robotical
As we think about preparing our students for the future, all educators need to think about ways to bring STEM into the classroom. With a predicted need of 3.5 million STEM-related jobs available by 2025, students need opportunities to learn about STEM topics in all classrooms. Through STEM, students build skills that will enable them to adapt to the changing world of work such as collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. With the right resources, we also help students to develop essential social-emotional learning (SEL) skills that are also critical for future workplace success.
In my 8th grade STEAM course, we explore a lot of different technologies and the best learning experiences are when students can work together and figure things out on their own. Even better is when they take the lead and teach me and their classmates too. How can we create opportunities for students to dive into coding and STEM? With Marty the Robot, students will take the lead!
Meet Marty the Robot
Marty is absolutely amazing! From the time you open the box, the fun begins. Without even interacting with Marty, students are instantly curious about Marty and how he works. If you have not seen Marty before, let me introduce you.
Marty is a humanoid robot that can dance, walk, and even wiggle his eyebrows! Each of Marty’s limbs is controlled by a separate motor which enables Marty to move around with his unique walking mechanism. Whether using the app or hands-free coding, Marty will bring joy to the classroom and spark curiosity for learning about him and coding right from the first time he is introduced. An excellent choice for students starting in pre-K and up!
Getting students started
With the options available in the app or the web-based app, students can dive in and create a program that has Marty moving, dancing, walking, and talking. Marty also comes with a ball that can be used to kick. Using the fun sticker accessories, students can dress Marty up which will help to promote student engagement and curiosity for learning!
It is amazing how much technology is available and how powerful it is for learning. Marty has a rechargeable battery and can be used for multiple class periods, enabling all students to engage with Marty!
To help students understand what coding is, the screen-free option is perfect for learning about the steps in the process and how Marty responds. Using the infrared sensors and color sensors on his feet, he can figure out which direction to move in and even dance and play music when he is placed on the color cards. It’s fun to see the students’ responses to how Marty moves and then for them to create their own code using the cards. It definitely sparks interest for them to get started with the app and make their own programs to get Marty moving and shaking.
Coding with Marty
Students can get started comfortably with the block-based coding or try more advanced text-based coding such as Python. Some fun activities are the obstacle course for students to try. It is fun for students to figure out how to get Marty to move around and even kick the ball! Marty will execute the program created by students and this helps students to learn about coding at their own pace and problem solve. If Marty does not respond as they hope, they can then work together to figure out how to change it so that it works, and if it doesn’t, problem solve to get it to work. Working through coding is great for building essential SEL skills such as self-management as students work through challenges and set new goals and also a great way to build collaboration and communication skills.
Benefits for teachers
Teachers don’t need to worry about needing a lot of time to get started, since Marty comes with everything needed within the learning portal. There are some videos to show exactly what Marty can do, lessons for unplugged activities for students to learn about who Marty is, what a program is, moving in different directions, and then getting started with MartyBlocks Jr. There are also lesson packs to choose from, such as “Marty Sensing the Environment”, “Introducing Python with Marty” and even mathematics lesson packs for younger as well as older students. One thing that I love about the resources is that Marty can be used to help students understand sustainability and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Students can see the impact of STEM and these types of learning activities for them.
In the Knowledge Base, teachers can find support articles and lots of other information to help them get started. Teachers can learn about all the parts of Marty, and there are even user guides for Python, Raspberry Pi, the MartyBlocks Jr, and many other topics.
New features coming soon!
As if Marty wasn’t already awesome for students and teachers, check out these new features coming soon! All Marty robots will have LED, or “Disco” eyes and this will be a lot of fun for students when coding! There is new sound functionality on the way that will include type-to-speech and also the playback of recordings. And recently, there was a webapp, or a browser-supported version of the app made available. Now students in schools that are using Chromebooks or working on a PC are able to have the same great experience as they do when using the app.
To best prepare students for the future, having opportunities to learn about and explore STEM is important. When we provide options that promote agency in learning, it leads to more meaningful experiences that promote the development of essential skills for the future and empower students through self-driven learning. What I love is that Marty is definitely a fun and engaging way to get students to learn about STEM. Everything that teachers need comes with him and there are all of those resources available in the Learning Portal and Knowledge Base. You can also do cross-curricular activities and connect other core content areas with coding of Marty. And it’s fun for students of all ages, we just need to tweak the learning goal and give students a chance to really expand upon the types of coding and programming that they’re doing.
Get started today! You can try Marty for free! All you need to do is sign up for a free trial and schools can try out Marty for 2 weeks with no obligation. You definitely want to take advantage of this opportunity, because your students and you will fall in love with Marty right away!
About the Author:
Rachelle Dené is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She was recently named one of 30 K-12 IT Influencers to follow in 2021.
She is the author of seven books including ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking, Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU, The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead, Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World, True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us, Your World Language Classroom: Strategies for In-Person and Digital Instruction and her newest book Things I WIsh [….] Knew is now available.
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