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AIM Institute Brings Ozobots to Abraham Lincoln

On Thursday, the AIM Brain Exchange participated in a tech-themed lunch & learn for students at Abraham Lincoln High School in Council Bluffs. AIM’s Brain Exchange team brought pizza, soda, colored markers, easel paper and Ozobots—tiny, bubble-shaped robots made to teach kids about programming in a fun way.  

“I call it coding visually,” said Lana Yager, an instructor in Technology Experiences for the AIM Brain Exchange.

Students drew trails on paper using a thick black marker. A sensor inside the Ozobot would read the trail and instruct the robot to follow.

To make things more interesting, students could add sequences of color-coded patterns along the way. Those patterns represented instructions that tell the Ozobot how to move.

For instance, “Red-Green-Blue” would direct the robot to go at a snail’s pace. If a student were to draw that sequence on the trail somewhere, the sensor inside the Ozobot would read the sequence and force the robot to slow down until it rolled across another sequence instructing it to do something else.

A sequence of “Blue-Green-Red,” on the other hand, would tell the robot to go super fast.

Thus, the principles of coding were illustrated IRL.

Sparking Interest in Tech with Pizza and Robots

Yager was heartened by the positive reaction at yesterday’s tech lunch.

“You never how kids are going to react, especially high school kids,” she said. One student who previously hadn’t seemed very engaged with school showed up. “I didn’t think he was going to like it at all, but he really liked it. He said several times, ‘This is fun, thank you.’ And he brought a girlfriend with him, and she really liked it too. So that’s cool.”

AIM’s Brain Exchange program participates in tech lunch & learns twice a month at Abraham Lincoln. The events are a hit with students.

“Last time, we did virtual reality,” Yager said. “That was fun.”

So fun, in fact, that during yesterday’s Ozobot-themed lunch, one of the students asked if they would get to do VR again next time.

Perhaps, Yager said. VR is a growing field with applications ranging from gaming to medicine. And the more exposure to technology students receive, the better.

The Brain Exchange, a program of the AIM Institute, is committed to providing tech education to youth who might not otherwise have access to such vital experiences, to dispelling the myth that technology is “too hard,” and to igniting curiosity and interest in tech.

Thursday’s lunch & learn was funded through the Upward Bound program, which provides fundamental support to students in their preparation for college entrance.