Smart Buddies: Let's Get Physical

Smart Buddies helps students learn essential coding skills by creating digital exercises that they can then turn into physical activities and vice versa.

With Covid-19, most students are spending their days staring into a computer screen. Smart Buddies combines our 'Siggy' robots and physical play along with computer science.

According to the American Psychological Association, “[d]eliberate practice involves attention, rehearsal, and repetition and leads to new knowledge or skills that can later be developed into more complex knowledge and skills” and is made up of activities created expressly to increase performance.

For example, See on Screen in our app allows learners to practice, make modifications and retry their coding exercise on the computer or tablet before executing it on the Siggy robot.

See on Floor allows learners to make the digital tangible by repeating the exercises on the floor with the Siggy robot. The repetition in the exercises increases confidence and improves speed and retention.

Kinesthetic Learning: Siggy Robots

Studies have shown that children learn better and retain more if they have something in front of them that they can feel and physically touch. In the Smart Buddies lessons, students are encouraged to explore and discover on their own. They can touch the app and test the Siggy robot out, and they can code to create a path for their Smart Buddies to move through. Seeing what they have created come to life and being able to touch it improves engagement with the lesson and boosts retention as students are actively involved in the learning process when they can see and touch what they’re learning about.

Smart Buddies are also a visual way to represent the concepts behind coding, and kinesthetic-tactile learning combined with visual and auditory input creates a multi-sensory learning experience that helps students to understand, recall, and apply what they have learned to novel situations.

Problem-Based Learning: Tutorials, Missions and Sandbox

Additionally, project-based learning focuses on the student and helps them learn by “working in groups to solve an open-ended problem,” and this is what is behind their motivation to continue learning how to code, according to the Center for Teaching Innovation at Cornell University.

Project-based learning helps students engage with learning material through real-world problems. In the real world, people don’t just use information and knowledge from one area, so this provides students with an interdisciplinary approach. They complete the project using what they know from a variety of subjects. This approach to learning is also very rigorous and complex, so it requires deeper learning, communication, and critical thinking. Students are encouraged to make their own decisions and to do their work how they want to show their understanding. These skills are critical to working in the 21st century.

When students work on open-ended problems, such as those present throughout the Smart Buddies curriculum, they have the opportunity to engage with the learning material in creative and innovative ways. This improves their overall learning of coding concepts and makes learning more fun in general. It also reduces their anxiety over working on coding and makes it easier for them to consider future careers in STEAM.