CHES 2nd Graders Create Gingerbread Community for their ‘Bots

It was like a scene from a holiday movie with excited children setting up Gingerbread-like homes, stores, police station, and other buildings they crafted for their elaborate Gingerbread community.

The students in Mrs. Hjelmar’s second grade class spent weeks working on a cross-curricular assignment that combined STEAM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Math) activities with social studies and ELA to learn about civic and community responsibilities, jobs, community design and much more.

The culminating project required students to wear many different hats. For example, the students were architects when they were designing their buildings; construction workers when they built their structures; and engineers as they all worked together to plan the layout of their community and design roads. Additionally, to properly build the roads the students had to learn how to code so the ‘bots could travel safely through the Gingerbread community.

“It was an all encompassing project with some holiday fun thrown in as well,” says Mrs. Hjelmar. “And they loved it! They were so engaged and dedicated to the community they were building.”

The day finally came when the students’ classroom was transformed into their very own Gingerbread community and they took turns maneuvering their ‘bots through the coded roads in the community.

And the learning didn’t stop. As their ‘bots were making their way through the community, the students were making inferences and observations and taking notes about the ‘bots movements.

“That ‘bot stopped because I think the road line is too thin,” said student Lucy Alverson. “I need to fix it and make it thicker so it knows to follow it.”

Another student notice her ‘bot couldn’t travel through a traffic circle she designed because the different color dashes blended together.

“These are great observations,” says Hjelmar. “And remember, making repairs to our coded roadways is what happens in the real-world, too. Road and bridges need to be repaired so vehicles can travel safely.”