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Meet "Blocky!"

Students controlling a "car" and LED light in the SAM Lab


Students at the elementary level in the OCS Summer Scholars Academy are really enjoying their STEAM enrichment activities, which are held during the two afternoon blocks at each site daily.

First and second graders are using the SAM Labs curricula for these particular lessons. SAM Labs involve STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to solve real world problems. Students use computers/laptops to do their work, with the help of “Blocky.” Blocky is the animated character who introduces students to the various blocks for coding and coding grids, in order to ensure the materials in their kits “behave” the way they are “told” through coding.

For example, when Blocky went camping, students made sure he had a tent (handmade by students) and a campfire (an LED light with sound and color change options), especially for the trip.

Students also coded a “traffic light” and a “car motor” and told the car to stop on red and go on green.

All of this was completed during Session 1 of Summer Scholars Academy.

One Second Grade Instructor at Pathways Elementary, Nataly Arriaga Frias, stated, “One student said, ‘I think I am becoming a nerd and I like it!’”

Others thank Ms. Frias daily for doing SAM Labs with them. Ms. Frias said she is grateful that OCS was able to invest in this curriculum. The student feedback has been very positive and encouraging.

Dr. Chris Gammon, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, said the good news is that students will be able to continue to do SAM Labs beyond summer camp! He said he is currently in negotiations with the provider to determine what the next steps would be for continued use.

Students at every site are exploring individual creativity while they are learning important STEAM skills and concepts!

And don’t worry, students in the middle grades have STEAM enrichment also! They use the NuVu and SmartGirls curriculum. Stay tuned for details next week about how middle grades students are tapping into their creativity while solving STEM problems that are applicable to daily life as well!

For more information about SAM Labs, watch the following video: