Botball is a hit at McClure Elementary. Springing from nine students last year to nineteen students this year, word is getting out that this club is the place to be.
“It’s really fun. You learn a lot,” said 3rd grader Sheana.
Club sponsors Kathy Wills and Lauren Hines brought Botball to McClure help kids learn to code, but the students are learning other skills along the way too.
“It really helps them to learn how to overcome adversity and keep pushing forward,” said Kathy. “At the beginning of every club meeting, we do a short growth mindset activity. What happens if we fail? What happens when things just don’t go the way we thought they were? How can we move forward?”
Kathy said they teach the kids that no one gets it right the first time, but there are lessons to be learned from the missteps. These skills are helping the students in the classroom too.
“I had bad grades. I was behind on my work. I was like, ‘I can’t do this.’ I came to Botball. I got into it, and then my grades started going up because I started focusing more,” said Conner, a 5th grade student.
In December, the students attended their first Botball Challenge – a full day of robotics at the fairgrounds. The students work on teams to code their robots to complete a task on a special mat. It is important to note that Botball is not a competition. Students are not competing against each other but rather working to complete as many challenges as they can throughout the day.
“It’s about supporting each other,” said Kathy. “They had so much fun. They loved it.”
For each successful challenge, the each student gets a pin to show what they accomplished.
“I’m so proud of them. Our team, they work really hard,” said Kathy.
The collaborative, positive atmosphere of Botball helps students build confidence. Kathy said it helped one student in the club come out of his shell after spending many years at McClure barely talking.
“He’s answering questions [in class]. He’s engaging,” she said.
It is also giving them the opportunity to interact with students who have a shared interest.
“I like working with my friends,” said 5th grader Landen.
Right now, the Botball club at McClure only has four robots for the students to work with, but they are hoping to get more in the future. More robots means more students can participate and learn these valuable skills.
“It’s a chance to learn a skill that they can use the rest of their lives,” said Kathy. “The thing I love about Botball versus other robotics programs is with Botball it teaches kids to code in the C language which is a good foundation for later on in life. If they want to become a computer coder, they will already have a little experience with a real coding language.”