- A school district in North Dakota is using pocket-size robots to prepare more elementary school students for futures in computer science and cybersecurity.
- A Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) grant is enabling Dickinson Public Schools to quadruple its number of ozobots, which are app-connected robots that introduce computer coding concepts.
- This effort supports North Dakota’s PK-20W initiative, which aims to grow the state’s economy by helping set up students for success with 21st-century job skills.
More pocket-size robots are coming to North Dakota to help elementary schools support workforce readiness and a state initiative to lead the nation in computer science and cybersecurity education. The city of Dickinson’s public school system is using a grant from Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) to quadruple its number of ozobots, which are app-connected robots that introduce children to computer coding and robotics concepts.
“The grant funding is the beginning step to ensure that our schools prepare our students at an early age, so they are college and career-ready.”
Expanding the reach
For the past four years, Dickinson Public Schools (DPS) has had a single classroom set of 18 ozobots to share among the 2,000 students across its six elementary schools. MPC’s $15,000 grant will purchase three additional sets and educational materials related to science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). The tiny robots use sensors to follow lines and read color sequences that students create to move them along a path. The DPS Full STEAM Ahead program incorporates this technology across a school’s curriculum, including subjects outside science.
“Fifth graders have used ozobots to map the journey of pioneers on the Oregon Trail and during the California Gold Rush by programming special codes to identify historical locations and events along the way,” DPS Elementary Library Media Specialist Troy Kuntz said.
A bigger picture
The progress at DPS is an outgrowth of North Dakota’s PK-20W (Pre-Kindergarten through PhD + Workforce) initiative, which began in 2018 with the vision, ‘Every Student, Every School, Cyber Educated.’ More than 40 stakeholders across the public and private sectors are aligned with this effort, which aims to grow the state’s economy by helping set up students for success with 21st-century job skills.
“The grant funding is the beginning step to ensure that our schools are doing their part in this initiative to prepare our students at an early age, so they are college and career-ready,” said Kuntz.