By Chris Luger
Within the technical community we will often hear a phrase ‘train the trainer’, which is the primary goal of recently formed Minnesota non-profit Code Kitty.
This 2017 Twin Cities Startup Weekend for Education winner was formed to train teachers and educators with the skills to comfortably bring robotics and coding into their classroom.
“Our ultimate goal is to provide more universal access to things that involve STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) concepts using coding and robots for elementary-aged kids,” says “Jill Woyak, the creator of Code Kitty.
While there are many similar programs for junior high and high school students, Code Kitty fills a need to provide the support, training, and education to the teachers, educators, as well as school media specialists such as librarians and parents whom would like to provide the training to the students.
The program, geared for 4th-5th grade end users, will provide low-cost robotics projects using 3D-printed components, open source hardware, software, and arduino-based micro controllers. Their interactive workshops introduce the children to computational thinking, and various coding scenarios. The program will include story-based, comic book style lessons to offer a fun and excited way to keep the kids engaged and to introduce, real-world, computational thinking and problem solving.
Woyak states that the main barrier preventing these types of programs is the confidence of the educators providing the training. Teachers may feel uncomfortable, and feel unprepared to answer questions. Code Kitty recently held their Kick-Off event in which local area teachers and educators were invited to walk through the material and what would be included in the provided workshops.
The teachers assembled the robot, called a “Kitty” and began building comfort with coding technologies. This event was also a feedback gathering session from the teachers to see what can be improved, changed or modified to provide the best learning experience for the children when the program goes live after the beginning of 2018. Code Kitty hopes to hold another event in which children will also be invited to continue to gather feedback and to understand what questions may be asked by kids who participate in the program.
Code Kitty is currently securing funding, and pursuing grants to bring their program to schools and children free of charge.