Port Allen Middle and Port Allen Elementary School are partnering to implement a cross-curricular coding program that’s new to the school district and designed to combine coding with active play.

The schools are piloting Unruly Splats, a tool used by schools across the country to incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and play into the classrooms.

The program is centered around programmable floor buttons, called “splats” that students can stomp on to light up, make sounds and collect points.

Students use an app on an iPad or Chromebook to code the rules to games such as whack-a-mole, relay races, obstacle courses or any game the students’ design.

Unruly Splats were designed for K-8 schools to introduce students to coding fundamentals in ways that inspire movement, collaboration, and engagement.

In the Port Allen Middle and elementary school partnership, Tasha Robichaux’s students in her intro to programming and STEAM classes, design games for the youngsters in Alana Simoneaux’s P.E. classes at the elementary school.

“Last year, Stephanie Thompson from our tech department had gotten somehow with Unruly Splats about the program itself and had come up with an idea of allowing our two schools since we're right next to each other, Port Allen Middle to be able to do the coding process and create the games and then they will bring them to us and teach our kids how to play the games,” Simoneaux said. It kind of took what we started last year and stepped it up to where students are now having a bigger component.”

This year is Robichaux’s first with Port Allen Middle. This year was also the first time she had heard of the tool.

“I actually just heard about Unruly Splats probably a month ago,” Robichaux said “When I got my hands on it, at first, I was like, ‘Unruly Splats, this sounds crazy. I was like, what in the world is this’ but then as I started checking it out and saw like how user friendly it was for the kids. And I think that is a really crucial thing for them. It makes them feel very accomplished and makes them want to learn more and code more.”

Simoneaux admitted the task of implementing the new program was a little daunting at first.

“It can be a little intimidating because being the first ones in the district and I'm honestly not very tech savvy,” she said. “The big part of having a partnership is Tasha has been great. She uses it hands on with her students, whereas I have to set it up for my kids. So, when I have problems to troubleshoot, she's been able to help me out some. Also, the company itself has been wonderful.”

Robichaux said one of her students programmed a game titled “Minions Go Bananas.” The game consists of purple dots on the splats to represent minions and the kids have to run and jump on the splats and a “fart gun” goes off before the splats turn yellow again and the game continues.

Other games Robichaux’s students have programmed include a red hen cleaning up a messy kitchen as well as a game called “ABC Stop.”

“This is kindergarten, first and second grade,” Robichaux said. “We want it to be fun. We want it to be active. They’ve been doing a phenomenal job with it. We want it to potentially be educational for them as well and help them with skills they’re learning in class.”

The schools are in an Unruly Splats national competition and as of Thursday morning, the group was second in the country in coding as well as stomping.

“To me, it is the fun aspect. It is the fact that we’re bringing technology into the school with physical activity and PE but a big thing about school is that real world,” Simoneaux said. “Making those connections with the mentor and seeing the opportunities at a young age. Maybe they say ‘hey, I might be interested in doing this when I get to the middle school.’ And by that point, no telling what type of opportunities will be offered at the middle school but just knowing that they're there. Also just letting them think on those terms of that hey, I can go places with this. 

“You know, a lot of times at this age, they want to be the football star or the basketball star, but we still have to talk about real world,” she added. “Here's an opportunity for you if you really like this and get into this.”

(2) comments


I love to participate in coding discussion.


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