- Taylor Independent School District
Leading the Way to Future Success
Every day at Taylor Middle School, during the class known as computer science for innovators and makers, students are coding with a purpose. But on Genius Day, they get to explore and code whatever they want for fun.
“They test on the emulator, then if it is a working code, they get to test it on the actual Micro Bit,” said instructor Karly Vasut. “We’ll plug it into the computer, run it and see if it works.”
Taylor ISD purchased fifteen Micro Bit kits for the middle school technology program using funds from a grant awarded by Samsung. Each kit contains sensors, alligator clips, copper tape, a battery pack so the Micro Bit doesn’t have to be plugged into a computer to work, and various other supplies.
“Eventually we will get to a point where they get to use pressure sensors and light sensors,” said Vasut. “They can connect the sensor to the Micro Bit, and if it reads a certain level of light, they can make the Micro Bit say turn the lights off, or something like that.”
For tech savvy students like Ashton Childers-Cooper, the level of technology being taught at Taylor Middle School is preparing them for future careers they are already interested in pursuing.
“When I grow up, I want to be a game creator,” said Childers-Cooper. “I just love the game Minecraft. It’s so much fun. There’s so much you can do. You can build, you can mine, you can craft. This class is coding, and in game creation coding is basically most of the things you need to know.”
The popular class is a subsection of Project Lead the Way, and is offered at TMS as an elective for 7th and 8th grades. According to Vasut, the program starts small, and expands as students develop a deeper understanding of the processes as well as higher level critical thinking skills.
“We started out talking about flow charts, like a rough draft of what your code is going to be,” said Vasut. “So, you’re going to start here, and then we’re going to want this to happen, and then we’re going to want this to happen. We started off doing the very, very basic introduction to code. For example, there’s a maze, and you have to code the mouse to get to the cheese through the maze.”
Their first project will be to create a safe for a valuable item.
“The thought process behind it is you have a valuable item you need to protect, so we’re going to use cardboard, hot glue and aluminum foil,” said Vasut. “Whatever we want to use to build an actual safe, and we are going to code the Micro Bit so when your item is picked up the pressure sensor reads that it is zero and maybe they’ll actually get to put the code into practice. Building something real is very cool.”
With technology in today’s world changing so rapidly, Vasut’s goal is to prepare her students with the knowledge and skills they will need for future success.
“I saw a TED Talk recently about a percentage of jobs in technology that have not even been created yet that all of these students will have, jobs that haven’t even been thought of yet,” said Vasut. “We are preparing them for something that doesn’t even exist yet.
Photo: Karly Vasut, TMS technology applications instructor, assists Sunny Paulsen with testing her code on a Micro Bit as Wyatt Bush observes. Paulsen coded the music she is using in band.