Most adults might not know what Bloxels, Ozobots and Keva Planks are, but their children probably do. Bloxels let you build your own video game. With Ozobots, you can create color-coded pathways for miniature robots to follow. And Keva Planks are the 21st-century version of Legos and Lincoln Logs.
Parents saw all of these tech toys and more in action at the Glen Cove City School District’s first Family Code Night, held during the Board of Education workshop on Monday.
The event was put on by science, technology, research, engineering, art and math teachers — whose subjects are known collectively as STREAM — from Landing, Connolly, Gribbin and Deasy schools to show parents the critical thinking and problem-solving skills their children are using in class.
Alexa Doeschner, the district’s science coordinator, said that it is sometimes difficult for students to communicate what they learn in school, especially if it’s a hands-on activity. “It’s the excitement and the student engagement that the STREAM teachers see in their own classrooms, and maybe parents, when they ask, ‘What did you do [today]?’ nothing gets through to the dinner conversation,” Doeschner explained. The event gave parents a chance to actually see what their children are learning.
More than 100 families of elementary-level students signed up for the event.
“It’s easy to bring home a story that you write, or it’s easy to bring home a math test, but the things we work on in class, things that they could talk to their parents about, it’s really hard to get that firsthand experience,” said Landing STREAM teacher Kenneth Altamirano. “This is really a night for the parents to see the great work that they’re doing, all the critical thinking, the teamwork and collaboration that it takes to be a 21st-century learner.”
Students and their parents chose from nine different coding stations, each with a different activity that focused on a technological skill. Whether it was directionality, with Bee-Bots, or mapping, with the Code-a-Pillar, parents watched their children interact with these advanced “toys.”
“I go to the board meetings, but I really love that they’re trying to do the educational workshops to get more parents involved,” said Tricia Lebowitz, a parent of three. “And when they involve the kids, that’s what gets the parents to come. My 5-year-old is already saying she wants to be an engineer when she grows up, all because of STREAM.” Lebowitz added that she hoped that the district would hold more events like this in the future.
Gribbin second-grader Mia DiFrancisco said that the best part of her STREAM classes is getting to experience new things.” Her favorite activity is the Ozobot, she said, because “you get to draw your own playground, a little Ozobot playground.”
The night ended with raffles, and a handful of families won the toys used during the event, which were donated by the elementary PTAs, STREAM teachers, the Glen Cove Teachers Association and the Glen Cove Educational Administrators Association.