New Bots and Coding class to be offered next year


Graphic by Riley Lynch '18

A student working on a computer. Bots and Coding will be a new addition to South’s list of classes for the 2017-2018 school year.

As students plan for next year’s schedule, a new elective class is being offered. Starting next school year, students will be able to take a Bots and Coding class.

The curriculum was created by the robotics academy at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburg, it is designed to show how to construct and program a small motorized robot, according to Matt McGuire, Physics and future Bots and Coding teacher.

“Through the course of a semester, the students will build onto their robot and then build onto the programs that tell the robot what to do,” McGuire said.

The course is a revision to a robots class that McGuire taught at South nine years ago. After many students showed interest in a coding class, McGuire thought to bring back the prior class, in a new form, he said.

“All of us teachers were hearing about this interest for it, and in the real world, the need for learning how to code is increasing, so I just revised the curriculum a little so it’s only one semester,” McGuire said.

All of the instructions for learning the programming are done through videos made by Carnegie Mellon University based on the old C+ language, a general purpose programming language, according to McGuire.

“They will start with graphical ‘drag and drop’ program commands, and then it will get into a more complex Javascript of C+ type command,” McGuire said.

Students can choose to count the class as a semester credit of science, or of computers, both not both together, according to McGuire

McGuire said he hopes that students will improve on working as a team if they take the class.

“This is a team-based course because there is only going to be one robot kit per every four students,” McGuire said.

Casey Jackowski ’18, gained a bit of experience with coding when she coded for a video game, and plans on taking Bots and Coding next year, she said.

“I’m interested in coding, and building robots seems really fun,” Jackowski said. “I want to get more information on coding and learning more about how robots work.”

The class is available to all students, even those who may struggle in most other classes.

“We’re really hoping that it spurs an interest in programming and projects and construction for students who are science-minded,” McGuire said. “Sometimes it’s the students who really aren’t the best students, but still like tinkering with stuff, and maybe just aren’t good at turning in their assignments all of the time.”

Experience with robots and coding is not required to take the class, according to McGuire said.

“I’m looking forward to getting a nice mix of different types of students, and different ages, and we’ll see where it goes from there,” McGuire said.