A look back on the Code Week 2019 Student Meet: developing projects to protect the environment in Malta

During Code Week 2019, students from Malta, Finland and Spain participated in an online meeting where they presented the Code Week activities they had participated in and talked about their overall Code Week experience

In Malta, Sarah, Andrea, Jacob and Chloe developed a project centred on the need to protect the environment, learning to work with Scratch and then building their own prototypes. In Finland, Sofi and Rasmus taught other students, did the CodyColor  Battle Royale and an Hour of Code project. Lucía, Sara and Laura from Spain designed a video game in Scratch and designed and created a Joystick with Makey Makey and inexpensive materials.

In this blog post, we learn more about the students’ and teacher’s experience in Malta, with teacher James Callus and students Sara, Andrea, Jacob and Chloe.

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James, you are Sarah, Andrea, Jacob and Chloe’s teacher. Could you along with your students tell us more about the activities organized in your school during Code Week 2019?

James: During the first part of their project, students used the Scratch Junior App to create a dialogue. Their objective was to make the other students in their school aware of the
importance to look after our environment.

Jacob: While creating my dialogue in Scratch Jr. I was all the time thinking about all the things we can do to save our planet. It makes me very sad to think about all the animals that might become extinct due to climate change.

Sarah: We wanted to find a solution to environmental problems and decided to build a robot, which will help us to look after the environment. We will discuss our ideas with all the students during the assembly. Maybe one day our dream will come true and our robots will really help future generations to look after the environment.

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James, how do you think that this project or activities that you have done with your students help to develop your students’ skills or competencies?

James: First by working together as a group and conducting research about climate change and the environment, they learned to collaborate and gather new knowledge. Together they created a project in Scratch Jr in which they did a digital story together. Then they focused on building the robot, which involved interpersonal skills. They had to communicate, plan, to construct and code together. These are all competencies, I think, are necessary for today. And they were really excited and a lot of ideas came out throughout the project.

Andrea: I really enjoy using my school tablet to create digital stories. When I create stories, I always think about different ways to improve my work. Scratch Jr. is one of my favourite apps since I can code to make my characters move on screen.

Are parents supportive of this kind of activities?

James: Yes, parents are very supportive. Last year, we started Family coding in school and at the public library. We had so many people interested that we couldn’t meet all the demand. This year we are going to repeat the same programme where parents, together with their children are invited to school after school hours. The Family Code nights are the first step towards that direction and I can assure you that it’s fun seeing parents and children, and sometimes even grandparents, coding. It’s an experience I cherish it and I look forward to next year’s event.

What is the impact you have seen in your students when you work with this kind of activities to learn about the environment?

James: First of all, with robotics and with Scratch Jr. I like to watch them think, collaborate, discuss and create things. And most importantly, they use coding to create something that works that they have planned together. That is the most rewarding part of every project.

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What would you say to teachers who might be considering using Scratch in their classroom with younger kids?

Chloe: Scratch Jr. is very easy and fun to use and I would like to tell all the teachers in the world to encourage their students to start coding with Scratch Jr. They should use Scratch Jr. so
the students can make their own stories and make them feel like they are writing their own book. And they can code and they can make all the characters move, talk, they can even disappear. It’s encouraging for students to know when they grow up they could learn how to code and it is really useful.

James: Start as soon as possible. Plan small projects first and let the children explore, be autonomous and discover the tool themselves to create more engaging stories which they can share with
their class and the rest of their schools. Coding is for everyone! Coding is for all and coding is fun!

Are you interested in knowing more? Head over to the full Student Meet here!