Row row row your bot – Noosa’s new Robotics Club

Noosa Library Service recently started a monthly Robotics Club aimed at youth interested in coding and robotics – read on and learn about their experiences.

The first meet-up was unfortunately cancelled due to cyclone Debbie unexpectedly visiting. We had planned on a soft launch for the first event as this was a new program for us, however plans changed and our soft launch was a distant memory. The next meet-up fell during the school holidays and was a (loud) roaring success. Over 20 children came to explore circuits, program the world’s smallest robot, and discover the world of coding.

Teagan Collier lends a hand

Teagan Collier lends a hand

Like any new program, we faced some challenges during the first session and we now plan to adapt future Robotics Club sessions with the lessons we learnt:

  • The Internet speed at the branch was too slow. We wanted to use an online coding website called Hour of Code, however the Internet was not able to load the pages speedily which meant kids lost interest quickly. In future we will use mBlock, which is downloadable to laptops and does not require an Internet connection.
  • Kids love LittleBits! The avid coders quickly discovered the instant gratification of connecting a LittleBit buzzer to the power pack – we quickly discovered our disdain for 15 buzzers buzzing!  In future we plan to keep these pieces separate from the large kit and use them for LittleBit projects only.
LittleBit projects come to life

LittleBit projects come to life

  • We started the Robotics Club with no required bookings as we wanted to make sure everyone who was interested was able to attend. We underestimated the number of keen programmers in our community and over 20 children turned up to the first meet-up. The two staff members running the session were overwhelmed with the numbers. Moving forward we will make this a booked event which will ensure we are adequately staffed and can provide enough coding and robotics resources to all attendees.
  • The world’s smallest programmable robots were a crowd favourite. We had 12 Ozobots on the table with a range of challenges. One girl fell in love with these pint-sized robots and discovered they fit perfectly into your pocket. Oops!
  • A memorable moment was a girl who had come along to previous Scratch lessons. She had clearly been dragged along to the lessons by her parents and had no interest in coding. Looking for some holiday entertainment, here she was again at the Robotics Club with optimistic parents. I set her up with Hour of Code on the Moana game. Suddenly she discovered gratification in coding and was determined to code faster than the hour limit suggested. She kept coming back to show me her progress and was genuinely excited to code. At the end of the session I asked her if she’d come back, she said yes because she wanted to finish all the games on Hour of Code!
Getting down with coding

Getting down with coding

  • Moving forward, we plan to introduce mBots, Spheros, and our Nao Robot into the club. Each meet-up will focus on a different element of coding and robotics. The featured element will have activities and challenges to accompany it, along with a staff member dedicated to problem solving and assistance with that activity.

We are excited to see how this new program shapes up and how the coding community takes to the challenges! Thanks to SLQ for all the grant-funded opportunities which has helped us purchase our range of robotic technology.

About the author

Teagan was born and raised in libraries, where she found her love of all things literary as a young girl. She now works at Noosa Library Service delivering Digital Literacy Programs to young and old including coding and robotics, Tech Savvy Seniors, and everything in between.