Mr Jenkins, Head of Digital Learning at Norwich School talks to us about robots.
What does your role as Head of Digital Learning at Norwich School involve?
The role includes everything from evaluating effective digital platforms and techniques that will support excellent teaching and learning, to setting up the Computer Studies department by overseeing the development and delivery of curricular courses and extra-curricular activities across school. This has included the implementation of new L5, GCSE and A Level Computer Science courses all in the same academic year. I hope these new courses and opportunities will inspire and nurture enthusiastic developers and inventors of the future. I chair the e-Safety committee and also facilitate training on digital learning, providing bespoke skills updates for teaching staff and departments.
You recently started the VEX Robotic Coding Club, can you tell us what motivated you to?
Having a club for the younger age groups was important and the aims of the VEX Robotic Coding Club was to give the pupils the opportunity to learn some hands-on engineering skills when building the robots, learning to code them to move and perform tasks in a very tangible and fun way.
When did it the VEX Robotic Coding Club launch?
Thanks to securing a very generous donation from Friends of Norwich School, we launched in late September, when the robot kits arrived. We meet every Friday lunchtime.
How many pupils attend the club?
We have four robots teams with either three of four members in each.
What has the club worked on so far?
So far all the robots are built and some are pimped up with additional ...modifications! They have been tested with the driver remote controllers and programmed for autonomous movement by flashing instructions to the ROM chips. Each week the group think of a challenges that the robots must do and have competitions to develop the best solutions.
How has technology enhanced learning in schools?
The VEX Robotics Coding Club teams take it in turns to take pictures and contribute to the VEX blog (https://nsvexcodingrobotics.wordpress.com/), so people can keep up to date with our progress. The club reinforce in-class learning for those pupils currently studying Computer Science and it also gives a fun taster to those who have yet to start a formal academic course. It is more than just a 'toe in the water' of a new subject.
What do you think the future looks like for robotics, coding and digital learning?
I would love to have more girls studying the subject. I also hope the club will grow and as the pupils knowledge expands, the robots we have created will begin to do some really complex operations. We may yet have a robot with built in artificial intelligence (AI) ready to replace me as a teacher! I would also like to continue to support local social enterprise like the Techathon on the last two days of the Easter holiday http://stepintotechathon.org/.